It’s undeniable that Russia’s offensive on Ukraine had a severe impact on international tourism.
Attributing source markets, the Unwto.org, which measures tourism market intelligence and competitiveness, says, “Russia and Ukraine represent a combined 3% of global spending on international tourism as of 2020. A prolonged conflict could translate into a loss of $14 billion in tourism receipts globally in 2022. In 2019, Russian spending on travel abroad reached $36 billion and Ukrainian spending $8.5 billion. In 2020, these values were down to $9.1 billion and $4.7 billion, respectively.”
Recently, the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) admitted that foreign tourism in Russia had plummeted. The Moscow Times, quoting ATOR, reported that “foreign tourism to Russia fell below 4% of its pre-pandemic levels in 2022 as the country faced international condemnation over its invasion of Ukraine.”
Going by updated figures, Russia witnessed a 40% decline in foreign tourists, dropping from 2,90,000 in 2021 to 1,90,000 in 2022.
It comes as no surprise that Russia has been spraying warmth on India, China and African nations to attract business travellers and strengthen the tourism sector.
Now, in a major development, Russia has started issuing electronic visas (e-visa) to Indian passport holders to speed up approvals for business tours, guest visits, and tourism. According to news portals, the e-visa is like a regular visa, which would spare travellers to Russia the protocols like checking with embassies. It’s aimed at making travel to Russia less cumbersome.
In the past, the Russian government would have a complicated visa regime for foreigners who visited, transited or resided in the Russian Federation. For example, a US citizen who did not comply with Russian visa laws were arrested and even deported.
An e-visa is like a biometric and electronic visa that empowers passport holders with the same rights as a normal visa.
Features of Russia’s e-visa:
- The e-visa will have a 60-day validity, allowing visitors to stay in the country for up to 16 days per visit.
- A faster application process will speed up the processing time of four days.
- The consular fee is reportedly $40.
How to apply:
- Visit the official website
- Click on the link that says apply for tourist visa
- It will direct you to the page comprising all the relevant information.
In recent times, it has been advised to avoid travel to Russia owing to partial military mobilisation, limits on financial transactions and a low number of flight options. As recently as June 24, there were reports of military tensions in the Rostov region. With Russia offering the e-visa facility, perhaps the scenario may not be all that bleak.
For a traveller though, Russia has a different allure, with historical riches and landscapes that have inspired poets and artists for ages. According to Russiamap360.com, “Major tourist routes in Russia include a travel around the Golden Ring of ancient cities, cruises on the big rivers like Volga, and long journeys on the famous Trans-Siberian Railway. Most visited tourist destinations in Russia are Moscow and Saint Petersburg, the current and the former capitals of the country.”
It’s the land of Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, arguably the greatest Russian poet.