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Visa-free entry for Indian tourists to Russia on the cards

Russia might possibly introduce a visa-free regime for Indian tourist groups, said Alina Arutyunova, Deputy Chairman of Moscow Metropolis Tourism Committee during her recent visit to Mumbai. At the moment though, Russia is about to quickly introduce e-visa for Indian tourists, reported The Times of India.

“The President of the Russian Federation has supported an initiative to introduce a visa-free regime for group tourists. Such an order has already been received for Iran on Tuesday. It’s possible that the same assignment will soon be for India,” she said.

According to Arutyunova, the top three non-CIS nations that send the most visitors to Moscow are Turkey, Germany, and India.

Despite the continued conflict in the area, more than 13,000 Indians travelled to Moscow in the first half of 2022, and the foot traffic is anticipated to return to pre-Covid levels by the end of 2023, as per data shared by the Moscow City Tourism Committee.

When the borders reopened in 2021 following the pandemic, it was discovered that 48 percent of Indian tourists traveled to Moscow. According to the Federal Agency for Tourism, compared to the pre-pandemic 2019 tourist flow, the footfall from India to Moscow in 2021 has increased by 40 per cent.

The Russian visa policy is found to be the primary reason for the increase in Indian visitors to Moscow.
“In 2020, a resolution was passed on the introduction of electronic visas for 52 countries, including India. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the resolution has not yet entered into force, but we very much expect that the project will be launched soon, and e-visa will simplify the process of arrival of foreign tourists,” Arutyunova stated.

President Vladimir Putin backed the proposal to institute a visa-free system for groups of international tourists in September. In addition, a streamlined online process for the e-visa application would be made available for 52 nations, including India.

On the impact of the Russia-Ukraine warfare, Arutyunova said, “Even in the case of worldwide uncertainty, tourism is a bridge between peoples and cultures. This year, during the first six months, Moscow hosted 13,300 Indians. It is expected that the pre-pandemic figures will be reached by the end of 2023.” (Source: The Times of India)

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