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Come and see Siberia visa-free under historic scheme for air passengers

By The Siberian Times reporter
12 February 2015

Foreign visitors transiting on Russian airlines will be able to stay for 72 hours without documents as part of move to help boost tourism and economy.

The 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: Slava Stepanov

An historic scheme to allow transit air passengers to stay in Siberia for three days without the need for a visa has moved a step closer to reality.

Under the plan, citizens from countries part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) would be allowed 72 hours document-free to explore parts of Russia.

The stays will apply to Novosibirsk, the largest city in Siberia, and two key Far East hubs in the Russian Far East, Vladivostok and Khabarovsk.

In order to qualify, visitors must have onward bookings with Russian airlines, such as Siberia-based S7 and UTair, or the likes of Aeroflot and Transaero.

The proposals were first put forward in December 2013, but they are now closer to being implemented after being backed by Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich.

They are being supported across the country as an innovative way to boost tourism, particularly in emerging areas such as Siberia and the Far East.

Tolmachevo visa-free

Tolmachevo visa-free

In order to qualify, visitors must have onward bookings with Russian airlines, such as Siberia-based S7 and UTair, or the likes of Aeroflot and Transaero. Pictures: Tolmachevo, Slava Stepanov

Anatoly Golomolzin, the deputy head of the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia, said: 'The stimulation of transfer traffic through the airports of the Russian Federation will increase the load of airports, and the possibility of visa-free 72-hour transit will increase the tourist flow and, consequently, increase the volume of tourism services.

'As a result it will give positive impact on aviation and the economy as a whole.'

It is thought this is the first time since the early Soviet era that visas will have been waived, with officials saying it could boost tourism in Russia by as much as 60 per cent.

In addition to Novosibirsk Tolmachevo, a preliminary list of airports that will grant the 72-hour visa exemptions include Vnukovo, Sheremetyevo and Domodevo in Moscow, St Petersburg Pulkovo, Novy airport in Khabarovsk and Yekaterinburg’s Koltsovo. The final list will be approved by the Ministry of Transportation in due course.

The visa exemptions will apply to citizens from OECD countries, including the United States, UK, Germany, France and Italy.

Of particular importance to Siberia, both in terms of the economy and tourist numbers, will be foreigners travelling through Novosibirsk from China, Japan, South Korea and Australia.

Tolmachevo visa-free

Tolmachevo visa-free

Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet House (top). Ligers in Novosibirsk Zoo (bottom). Picture: Slava Stepanov, Vera Salnitskaya

The airport at Novosibirsk is just 16km from the city centre, with tourists likely to want to visit Lenin Square, with its Opera and Ballet House, and the Art Museum.

A trip to Akademgorodok, built in the 1950s to host the cream of the Soviet era’s scientists and academics, is also worth a visit.

But the number one attraction likely to appeal to transit passengers is Novosibirsk Zoo, with its 11,000 animals including Ligress Zita, which has a lion father and tigress mother.

Comments (8)

I never understood the visa requirements for post communist Russia. It's not like anyone from the "Western world" would feel a need to be an economical refugee since they have it much better in their own country. And those who do wish to seek economic refuge in Russia (such as Tajiks) already have done and do so through other means. And the Russians happily (ab)use them like the Americans (ab)use Mexican immigrants.

The only reason these visa requirements exist (and not just in Russia) is because of misguided political reasons.
shpace, Space Camp, USA
18/02/2015 06:37
3 days? Is that a joke? Let's talk when you increase to 14 /21 days. Thanks!
Konstantin Ferrer, Asheboro, NC , USA
16/02/2015 12:13
The Philippines will give you 21 days without a Visa. 3 days is just way to short for a vacation.
Darwin, USA
16/02/2015 03:48
Typical american comments...Russian people are friendly and very hospitality,and give you a service you might dream about abroad
Per, Norway
15/02/2015 01:08
I would be afraid it might be more trouble than its worth. Somehow get stuck there, and accidentally over stay the 3 days, then end up in the gulag, for who knows how long. It would be very costly.
Darwin, Utah USA
14/02/2015 19:51
An important SMALL step, but a disappointing stride! Why not increase such a visit to one week without a visa . 72hrs would be mainly used waiting in airports for other flights orother transport connections . Da da a bureaucrat's decision with no travel experience. Siberia is so vast, time becomes the main factor in planning a visit to see some of the most unique Cities in the world , China made the same mistake for 500 yrs and now regrets its visa policies of the past , Give siberian people a taste of cosmopolitan life , this will free them from international cultural isolation and broaden their outlook on todays decreasing world ,
Patrick .
Patrick Travers , Perth
13/02/2015 19:34
Why not New Zealand Citizens as well ?
Ian Robertson, New Zealand
13/02/2015 07:46
Great News! I'd love to visit Russia but the idea of not knowing in advance if we will get a visa or not is a definite show-stopper for me. Knowing for sure that I cab say 3 days without troubles will encourage me to make a detour and include a stop over :)

Thanks for easing those outdated travel restrictions.
Guy Brassard, Quebec City, Canada
12/02/2015 22:43

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