Russia should undertake a review of its strict visa requirements and do more to make travel for foreign tourists in the country easier if they want to attract more visitors to the country, the World Tourism Organization chief has said.
“Each nation has the ability to encourage increased tourism through regulation and procedure adjustment,” said Taleb Rifai when interviewed by RIA Novosti at the recent Las Vegas global tourism summit.
“What we need is for Russians to make it easier for people to go there.”
The Russian Federation has become a major player in global tourism over the last five to seven years, explained Rifai.
“The Russian tourism market has grown by 26% in the last year, which is a very impressive achievement,” Rifai added, pointing out its growth was on a similar scale to that of China.
If the Russian government wants to make visiting the country easier for tourists, they need to take action in two key areas, said Rifai. The first thing is the visa issue, and the second is Russian airlines, with the former being the more important of the two matters.
Rifai explained how during his last visit to Moscow in March, US Vice President Joe Biden was also in the country. During talks with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader proposed scrapping the need for visas between the two countries.
“It made me happy to see that Putin made that statement. We like to see Russia taking this kind of attitude,” he said.
Rifai went on to explain how Turkey, who have already scrapped visas for Russian, has benefited immensely from the deal. There has been a threefold increase in the number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey since the decision was taken two years ago.
Russian airlines should also begin operating more flights to other cities in the country, and they should lower their ticket prices, to encourage more travel to these cities, Rifai said.
He pointed out that why the infrastructure and the lack of high end tourism services in the country was a problem, it was not a major obstacle for tourism in general.
“Overall, the Russians need to make more of an effort advertising their country, its opportunities, and most especially its food,” commented Rifai. “Russian Borscht is simply the best soup I’ve ever tasted.”