Due to the damaging effect the COVID-19 outbreak is wrecking on the global tourism industry, the Russian Federal Tourism Agency has evaluated possible tourism revenue losses of at least $4 billion. As a result, they have proposed relaxing Russia’s infamously awkward visa rules to assist the economic recovery when the coronavirus is over.
The Federal Tourism Agency recomended that the Russian government begin issuing mutliple entry tourist visas that are valid for up to five years. Currently, the majority of tourists wishing to visit Russia are only permitted to apply for single and double entry visas which are valid for up to 30 days.
On top of this, the Federal Tourism Agency wants to cut processing times which are currently notoriously long unless you apply for expedited process. The new proposals, if enacted, will see visa processing time down to 3 three business days.
The new e-visa which is planned to take effect from 2021 has also been under discussion, the agency wants to extend the e-visa program from 16 days to 90-120 days and also make them multiple entry.
Whilst the agency is currently in discussions with the Foreign Ministry. It is not guaranteed that the Russian Foreign Ministry will adopt these new visa recommendations. However, its positive aspects are not to be ignored. Studies show that tourists from around the world have frequently claimed the biggest barrier to visiting Russia is its difficult visa.
When Russia reopens its borders, which will occur when the coronavirus situation is stabilized, the government plan to implant an app system which will track foreign tourists’ movements through smartphone geolocation in order to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.