Russia is simplifying its visa scheme as part of an effort to become one of the world’s top tourist destinations within the next five years, a senior official announced on Tuesday.

Building on last year’s experience of offering simplified entry to foreign football fans coming for the FIFA World Cup, Russia plans to introduce an electronic visa regime for tourists on short-term visits.

Electronic visas are a “real breakthrough for tourism, not only in Russia but in the world,” the head of Russia’s Federal Agency for Tourism, Zarina Doguzova, said in comments carried by state news agency TASS.
“We believe that by 2025, Russia will enter into the top 12 tourist destinations,” as ranked by the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization, Doguzova was quoted as saying.
Russia predicts that the implementation of electronic visas could boost tourism by up to 30 per cent, the report said.
Such visas, at a cost estimated at 50 dollars apiece, could become widely available in a year and a half, at the beginning of 2021. A pilot project is already being conducted.

Russian daily Kommersant reported that access will initially be limited visitors from EU countries, as well as tourists from China, South Korea and Japan. As Russia’s relations with the UK and the US are at a low point, the new e-visa system is not expected to be available to British and American tourists in the near future. – dpa