Russia 72-Hour Visa-Free Transit to Boost Domestic Airline Profits

MOSCOW, November 3 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s flagship airline Aeroflot is expected to increase revenues by 30 billion rubles ($936 million) after the 72-hour visa-free stay policy for foreign tourists is introduced in the country, the Ministry of Culture said Sunday.

The draft legislation to allow foreign nationals in transit at 11 Russian airports to remain in the country for 72 hours without visas was approved by the Russian government in September.

Visitors from 20 countries, including the United States, China and major EU states, will enjoy the policy on condition that they buy an air ticket of a Russian airline, an explanatory note for the legislation, drafted by the ministry, says.

Experts believe that the measure will increase foreign tourist arrivals by 60 percent, according to the document posted Sunday on the Russian government portal

According to estimates, the Russian hotel industry will see its income rise 3.6 billion to 5.4 billion rubles ($110-160 million) a year.

Last year, only 2.1 million foreign nationals visited Russia as tourists. The country ranked on par with Laos (some 2 million), Costa Rica (over 2 million) and Honduras (2.2 million).

This story has been corrected: The original was missing the first “million” in the last paragraph.


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