You can now enter all countries popular with Russians where there are direct flights without a visa or with a visa issued upon entry. Negotiations on the introduction of a visa-free period for tourists for 15 days are currently underway with China and India, representatives of the tourism industry told RG.
“With China, there is already an option for group visa-free transportation, and it has begun to really work, but there is talk of exempting tourists from visas for up to 15 days, as has now happened between China and Kazakhstan,” says the vice-president of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia ( ATOR) Arthur Muradyan.
The same negotiations, he said, are also underway between Russia and India. First, it is planned to launch group visa-free tourism, and then simplify the visa regime.
The process of simplifying the visa regime is underway. This year, a visa-free group travel regime began operating in China, and it is gaining popularity, recalls Dmitry Gorin, vice-president of the Russian Union of Travel Industry.
“The Foreign Ministry is conducting consultations; there are five states on this list, including countries in the Middle East and Asia,” he says.
There are prerequisites for simplifying the visa regime with India and other countries. The day before, Sri Lanka canceled paid visas; as a result, the flow of tourists from Russia to this country will inevitably increase, adds Gorin.
We now have direct flights with Sri Lanka. Flights are operated by Aeroflot and Azur Air with their own programs. You can also get there by connecting flights through Middle Eastern countries such as the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar. Moreover, the transit route will often be cheaper, Muradyan notes.
The non-stop flight takes 8 hours, adds Natalia Osipova, executive director of the Alliance of Travel Agencies (ATA). According to her, the average bill for a tour package including flights, insurance and accommodation with breakfast now ranges from 250 to 350 thousand rubles. the hotel has 3-4 stars. If you buy a ticket separately, then just a direct flight will cost about 90 thousand rubles.
As Gorin points out, Sri Lanka is now already one of the five most popular foreign destinations among Russians. “The first position is now occupied by the United Arab Emirates, followed by Thailand, Turkey, Egypt and Sri Lanka,” he explains. Some travel companies also include the Maldives in their TOP 5.
Russia has direct flights with all these countries. And in fact, with most of the popular countries with which we now have direct flights, visas are issued upon arrival, or are some kind of formality like a stamp in a passport, are absent altogether or are free, that is, these are quasi-visa-free countries. These include the entire Middle East, all the islands of the Indian Ocean (Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles), Cuba, Thailand, Turkey, Egypt, experts say.
Also, do not forget that there is also Iran, where from a tourist point of view there is a system of group visa-free transportation, but there you can get a visa upon arrival in the country without any problems, so it belongs to the category of quasi-visa-free countries, Muradyan adds.