The goal that the entire national tourism community has been striving for has finally been achieved. Beginning on January 1, 2021, a single electronic visa for foreign tourists will be introduced in Russia. It is available to citizens of 52 countries for a fraction of the cost of a regular visa and can be processed in no more than four days.
Just five years ago, this was something people could only dream about, but even then, conversations about the need to simplify the visa system were ongoing. Russia conducted the 2018 World Cup according to the highest standards, acquiring tremendous experience in how to receive foreign guests, including those entering the country using the FAN ID system, which replaced standard visas. In 2017, an experimental program was launched to provide electronic visas to tourists entering Vladivostok, and the same system was used for foreign guests in Kaliningrad, Saint Petersburg, and the Leningrad Region in 2019. This experiment was recognized as a success, and now residents of more than fifty countries can come to Russia without visiting a consulate or going through unnecessary formalities.
The only thing limiting foreign guests’ ability to receive visas like this today is the global coronavirus pandemic. Many countries have temporarily closed their borders, and Russia is no exception. We believe that the pandemic will be defeated soon, and tourists will be able to travel the world freely and discover new countries.
The fact that the Federal Agency for Tourism has developed a new national project entitled “Tourism and the Hospitality Industry” is also cause for optimism in our business. It is anticipated that this project will be finalized by the summer of 2021; it is to operate for nine years and its budget will exceed 6 billion dollars. The concept of this project calls for the export of tourist services to rise from 11 to 22.3 billion U.S. dollars, while the number of domestic trips should increase by a factor of 2.2. Only time will tell whether tourism will become “the new oil” for the Russian economy, but the authorities expect the industry to recover and expand as early as 2021.
In this issue of the magazine, already our fourth, we have tried to show the world the full breadth of our country, from the Far East and Siberia to the Arctic and the Northern Caucasus. Whatever the time of year, you will find an activity to suit your tastes, from mountain climbing and river cruises to intellectually stimulating urban tourism featuring visits to museums and the finest restaurants specializing in local cuisine. The stories and photographs from our contributors will help you get a clearer sense of Russia and understand its people, culture, and traditions. Once you have settled on the experience that’s right for you, go right ahead and buy your ticket — we will always be eager to welcome you!
General Director, Editor