19 Aug 2019 13:40

Russian tour operators expect increase in tourists from India after introduction of electronic visas

MOSCOW. Aug 19 (Interfax) - The introduction of electronic visas in Russia will lead to a considerable increase in the number of tourists visiting from India, a country now among Russia's top sources of inbound tourism, the Russian Union of Travel Industry said.

According to the Russian Federal Security Service's Border Guard Service, Indian tourists made 31,700 trips to Russia in the first half of 2019, which is almost a 50% increase from 2018. India is now one of Russia's top ten sources of inbound tourism for the first time.

"The tourist flow from India is increasing rapidly, and electronic visas will give it a new impetus and will broaden the geographic scope of their arrival destinations. Indians now choose the classics - St. Petersburg and Moscow. And, of course, Sochi, which they already know much better than European tourists," Russian Union of Travel Industry press secretary Irina Tyurina said, citing tour operators.

Electronic visas will become available starting October 1, 2019 for foreign tourists entering the country through St. Petersburg and on January 1, 2021 for tourists entering the country through Moscow, she said.

"Despite the impressive dynamics, the tour flow from India to Russia is extremely small in absolute numbers. A total of 1.25 billion people live in India and 26 million of them vacationed abroad in 2017. By comparison, travelers from China, a country with a similar population (1.4 billion), made 131 million trips abroad," Tyurina said.