Eyeing post-pandemic travel boom, Russia to relax tourist visas so globetrotters can see country’s landmarks for up to six months

Holidays abroad might have been an early casualty of Covid-19 lockdowns, but Russia is betting that wanderlust has only grown, and plans to make it easier for tourists to take a long trip round the world’s largest country.

Under the rule change, adopted by the national parliament in its first reading on Wednesday, visas for sightseers can be issued for up to six months, and can be granted simply on the basis of a hotel booking. Previously, a tour operators’ voucher was required.

Those with a close relative who is a Russian national will also be able to apply for a multiple-entry private visa that will enable them to stay in the country for up to a year.

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Vladimir Sinyagovsky, an MP from the governing United Russia party, said that “we are focused on the development of tourism” in the country, “so the legislation we are adopting is extremely necessary.”

After initially closing its borders to foreign nationals to contain the spread of coronavirus, Russia has since begun opening its borders to nationals from a number of countries, with direct air travel having resumed to Switzerland, India, Greece, Japan and others.

For Russians, a sunny trip to Southern Europe might also be on the cards. On Wednesday, the Greek ambassador in Moscow told the Rossiya-24 TV channel that “we can ensure the issuance of Schengen visas to everyone who wishes to visit our country.” The country plans to open up to foreign nationals, including Russians, by 14 May.

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