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30 Aug, 2023 06:13

Russia’s e-visa scheme drives sharp increase in tourist bookings

The service was launched this month to simplify travel for citizens of 55 countries
Russia’s e-visa scheme drives sharp increase in tourist bookings

The number of foreign bookings of Russian hotels has increased by 25% in August compared to July and by 40% year-on-year, business daily Kommersant reported on Tuesday.

According to the newspaper, citing calculations by travel website Ostrovok.ru, growth in foreign demand for accommodation was due to the launch of electronic visas (e-visas) this month, which simplified travel to Russia for citizens of 55 countries. Data showed there was no pronounced growth in July when compared with June.

The e-visa application process takes four days and is based on the use of an online portal or mobile app. It allows single entry into Russia and foreigners can stay for around two weeks as a tourist, guest or business visitor, as well as a participant in scientific, cultural, sociopolitical, economic, or sporting events. The cost is about $52.

E-visas are particularly in demand among applicants from India, Türkiye, China, Iran, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the Netherlands, France, Italy, and Spain, according to Alla Gordienko, head of the visa and migration department at Continent Express.

According to Ostrovok.ru, the most noticeable increase in foreign demand was for accommodation in Irkutsk, where bookings tripled year-on-year in August. Elsewhere, Vladivostok saw twofold growth in the same period, while in Moscow and Kazan foreign bookings increased by 58% and 50% respectively. St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Sochi, Ekaterinburg, and Novosibirsk were also among the most popular destinations for foreign tourists.

Industry experts forecast that demand will continue to grow, citing “positive dynamics in pre-booking for the next tourist season due to electronic visas.” 

Russia has also launched reciprocal visa-free group tours with China and Iran, and is planning the same with India.

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