Transit passengers from 20 countries will be allowed 72 hours in Russia without the hassle of obtaining a visa.
It is possibly the first time since early in Soviet times that visas have been waived in this way. Picture: Alexander Ermolitskiy
The new visa-free stays will apply to Novosibirsk, the largest city in Siberia, and two key Far East hubs in the Russian Far East, Vladivostok and Khabarovsk.
Visitors must have onward bookings with major Russian airlines like Aeroflot and Transaero or Siberian carriers such as S7 and UTair.
The exemptions - which allow for short visa free visits - apply to citizens of 20 countries including the US and major European Union countries such as Germanny, France, Italy, the UK and Spain.
Of special significance to Siberia, the rules will apply to foreigners passing through Novosibirsk, Khabarovsk and Vladivostok from China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Singapore. The full list is: Germany, China, the United States, Great Britain, Sweden, Italy, France, Spain, South Korea, Japan, Poland, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Singapore, Australia and Greece.
Transit passengers will require a valid passport or identity card, a hotel booking and medical insurance.
It is possibly the first time since early in Soviet times that visas have been waived in this way.
The new visa-free stays will apply to Novosibirsk, the largest city in Siberia, and two key Far East hubs in the Russian Far East, Vladivostok and Khabarovsk. Picture: Alexander Ermolitskiy
The move is intended to boost tourism and this may lead to pressure to put Irkutsk - the main hub for Lake Baikal and an especially surprising omission - and Krasnoyarsk on the list.
The full list of airports on this list is: Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo, Vnukovo in Moscow, Pulkovo (St. Petersburg), Kazan (Kazan), Knevichi (Vladivostok), Koltsovo (Yekaterinburg), Khrabrovo (Kaliningrad), Tolmachevo (Novosibirsk), Adler-Sochi (Sochi) and Khabarovsk-Novy (Khabarovsk).
'The same visa-free rules are applied for foreign tourists, who arrive in Russia onboard specialised cruise liners and ferryboats,' said notes concerning the rule change. 'The introduction of the visa-free regime of stay in Russia for foreign tourists, who arrive by air, can bring a considerably larger result and economic effect,' said the authors of the resolution which was approved by the Russian government.
The move is seen as boosting tourism to Russia by 60% and bring substantial additional revenue to hotels in the named cities. An estimate claimed it could boost Aeroflot revenue by $932. The Russian government estimates a 60% rise in foreign arrivals.
Russian - and especially Siberian - tourist numbers are seen as far lower than they could be. Despite its size and unquestioned tourist potential, Russia's tourist visits ranks on roughly the same level as Loas, Costa Rica and Honduras.
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