18 states are approaching visa-free travel
While some European countries are considering whether to stop issuing visas to Russians altogether, 18 states are considering the complete abolition of the visa regime for citizens of the Russian Federation or its maximum simplification. Domestic diplomats reported on ongoing negotiations with countries that would be of interest to both Russian business and tourists. With the help of tourism industry experts, we found out what prospects this will open up for Russian vacationers.
For obvious reasons, the Russian Foreign Ministry does not disclose the list of 18 countries until the end of the negotiations, but it is already known that these are the countries of Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. According to representatives of the domestic consular service, the emphasis in visa facilitation is, among other things, on the tourism component on a reciprocal basis – that is, we will go to the countries that have simplified entry to us as much as possible, and their tourists will come to us.
“Although we don’t have official data yet,” they say in the capital’s travel agency specializing in “author’s” – complex and often individual – tours overseas and to Southeast Asia, “but we already know that visa-free travel is on the way countries that can revive the industry. These are Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Macau. And probably the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Venezuela, as well as Iran, India and Sri Lanka. All this makes it possible to form an attractive tourist product, including combined tours – an excursion block plus rest. For example, to Mexico, where there are plenty of opportunities for educational tourism to the places of the Mayans, Aztecs, and for a beach holiday on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.
– If charters are launched, then no. Mexico itself is not an expensive country. If indeed, as they say, they open an additional Russian consulate in the tourist region of Cancun, then our tourism to Mexico has every chance of becoming massive.
The Consulate General of the Russian Federation, as they say in diplomatic circles, is planned to open in the Maldives (currently the nearest one is in Sri Lanka, 650 km or an hour's flight), which indicates that the tourist flow from Russia promises to grow there too.
But domestic “long-steers” – lovers of spending the entire winter season in warm regions, working remotely, have special hopes for Malaysia, with which, according to the information of the authorized department, a draft bilateral intergovernmental agreement on the mutual abolition of visa requirements is in the process of being agreed with the authorities.
– A very convenient country for “remote work” and for life, – says a winterer with experience from Izhevsk. – There is no such widespread fraud due to the gigantic flow of “packagers” (tourists who come on organized package tours for a period of no more than two weeks. – “MK”), as in Thailand. And low quality of life, as in Indian Goa. For a working person, the prices are reasonable, the climate is good, the country is multinational and multi-confessional, and therefore habitually tolerant of everyone, without any religious pressure or the dominance of local traditions. Everything is very civilized and adequate.
The return to the tourist system of China and Hong Kong, with which the Federal Tourism Agency is also working to improve the bilateral agreement on visa-free group tourist trips, is waiting not only for travelers, but also for “buyers” – buyers of consumer goods, but simply “shuttles”. By the way, countries that are considering simplifying the entry procedure for us are simultaneously discussing the possibility of launching a Russian payment system, which will make visiting them as comfortable as possible for Russians. The Iranian Foreign Ministry, for example, calls the acceptance of domestic bank cards in their country a matter of the near future. And on the eve of the Association of Tour Operators reported that our cards began to serve ATMs in Cuba. To date, Myanmar, Nigeria, Bahrain and Thailand have also announced that they are considering connecting to the Russian system.