20 Feb 2023 13:24

Russia, China resume agreement on visa-free group trips

MOSCOW. Feb 20 (Interfax) - Russia and China have reinstated an agreement on visa-free group trips, which was suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russian Economic Development Ministry told Interfax.

"The agreement between the government of the Russian Federation and the government of the People's Republic of China on visa-free group tourism visits of February 29, 2000 has been reinstated after being suspended over the new coronavirus infection pandemic," it said.

To admit Chinese tourists to Russia, the Economic Development Ministry is supposed to receive an updated list of Chinese tour companies planning to arrange group tours under the agreement and pass it to the Border Service of the Federal Security Service (FSB), it said.

"The Russian Economic Development Ministry expects to receive this list from the Chinese Culture and Tourism Ministry in the near future," it said.

The Chinese and Russian governments signed an agreement on visa-free group trips in February 2000. The agreement allows organized tourist groups numbering from five to 50 people to visit the neighboring country without visas and stay there for up to 15 days. The agreement was suspended because of the pandemic in January 2021.

As reported earlier, China lifted coronavirus-related entry and exit restrictions on February 6 and allowed its citizens to travel to 20 countries, including Russia. However, travel operators said the massive tourist traffic could not recover until visa-free trips were reinstated.

Before the pandemic, China accounted for 1.5 million out of 5 million foreign travelers who visited Russia in 2019, and 1.2 million of those came to Russia under the said visa-free agreement.