Russia’s Tourism Industry Set to Soar: Electronic Visas and Favorable Exchange Rates Drive Unprecedented Growth

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The implementation of electronic visas in Russia, along with rising demand from Asia, is anticipated to lead to a significant increase in the number of tourists visiting the country in 2024, according to Aleksandr Musikhin, CEO of Intourist and committee head of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR).

Musikhin stated in a press conference this week that approximately 430,000 foreign tourists visited Russia beween January and September 2023. Notably, organized tourist groups primarily arrived from China, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Iran, and the UAE, while individual tourists hailed from Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe.

Key factors driving the surge in foreign tourism include the introduction of electronic visas and the favorable exchange rates due to the weak ruble, making pricing for hotels and services more attractive.

The electronic visa scheme, launched in August, simplifies travel to Russia for citizens of 55 countries, with a straightforward application process through an online portal or mobile app. This initiative, allowing a two-week stay with a cost of about $52, has gained popularity among tourists from various countries, including India, Türkiye, China, Iran, Vietnam, Saudi ARabia, Singapore, the Netherlands, France, Italy, and Spain. Russia has also initiated reciprocal visa-free group tours with China and Iran, extending a similar offer to India.

Anticipating a substantial increase in foreign tourism in 2024, Musikhin predicts a 3-4-fold rise, with a focus on tourists primarily originating from Asian countries.

The Russian Ministry of Economic Development is actively working towards boosting the incoming tourist flow to 16 million tourists by 2030, with a strategic focus on attracting visitors from 17 priority countries in the Middle East and Asia.

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