Russian Association of Travel Agents Proposes Visa Experiment for St. Petersburg

The Russian Association of Travel Agents has proposed to the Russian Government that it carry out an experiment in St. Petersburg with a simplified procedure for handing out entry visas to Russia. The plan proposes that for the duration of one year foreigners arriving from the Schengen zone who do not intend to spend more than five days in St. Petersburg or the Leningrad Region be able to receive a visa at a checkpoint in St. Petersburg. The suggested cost of such a visa is USD 25-35. Sergei Korneev, the vice-president of the Association, put forward the proposal at a round-table discussion on the problems of developing tourism, which was held in St. Petersburg.

Korneev said that 'the Association is hoping for the Government's support because the proposal has been carefully researched'. In particular, statistics prepared by St. Petersburg's four-star hotels show that 80% of tourists come for a stay of up to five days. A similar experiment, which affected foreigners visiting for up to two days, has already been carried out in St. Petersburg. However, Korneev claimed that this was not long enough to look round the city properly, and that tourists often simply turn down such short trips.

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