The demand for Russian hotels among foreign travelers has seen a significant increase, with bookings rising by 25% in August compared to July and by 40% year-on-year. This surge in foreign demand for accommodation can be attributed to the recent launch of electronic visas (e-visas) in Russia, which have simplified travel for citizens of 55 countries. Data shows that there was no significant growth in July compared to June, highlighting the impact of the e-visa program.
The e-visa application process takes four days and can be completed using an online portal or mobile app. It allows for single entry into Russia and permits foreigners to stay for approximately two weeks as tourists, guests, or business visitors. They can also participate in various events, including scientific, cultural, sociopolitical, economic, or sporting activities. The cost of an e-visa is about $52, making it an affordable option for travelers.
The demand for e-visas has been particularly high among applicants from India, Türkiye, China, Iran, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the Netherlands, France, Italy, and Spain. Alla Gordienko, head of the visa and migration department at Continent Express, stated that these countries have shown a significant interest in the e-visa program.
A notable increase in foreign demand for accommodation was observed in Irkutsk, where bookings tripled compared to the same period last year. Vladivostok also experienced a twofold growth in bookings, while Moscow and Kazan recorded increases of 58% and 50% respectively. Other popular destinations for foreign tourists included St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Sochi, Ekaterinburg, and Novosibirsk.
Industry experts predict that the demand for Russian hotels will continue to grow, citing “positive dynamics in pre-booking for the next tourist season due to electronic visas.” This suggests that the e-visa program has effectively attracted more tourists and has the potential to boost the country’s tourism industry.
In addition to the launch of e-visas, Russia has also implemented reciprocal visa-free group tours with China and Iran, and is planning to establish similar agreements with India. These initiatives are expected to further enhance the accessibility of Russia as a tourist destination and attract more foreign visitors.
Overall, the introduction of electronic visas in Russia has led to a notable increase in foreign bookings of Russian hotels. The simplified travel process and affordable cost of e-visas have made Russia a more attractive destination for tourists, resulting in a surge in demand for accommodation. With positive growth trends and additional visa-free initiatives, Russia’s tourism industry is poised to experience continued expansion in the coming seasons.