Since we reported on the Russia-Finland Free Visa issue, visitors to the Russian Federation via high speed rail have increased by 22 percent over the same period a year ago. According to the news, some 100,600 rail passengers traveled between Finland and Russia in the first quarter of 2011.
The door for visa-free travel between Russia and Finland was opened on Sunday as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Finnish President Tarja Halonen officially opened a high speed rail service between St. Petersburg and Helsinki. The two leaders seemed positive about at least limited free-visa travel between the two countries. A positive outcome for rail between the two could well speed EU and Russian Federation talks to open up travel to Russia.
Travel and tourism for Russia is up this year despite slow progress on the free visa issue. The EU’s apparent stalling of Russia on free travel is holding up what could be a boom for the industry worldwide. Business between the EU and the Russian Federation could take many countries out of the recession with expanded cooperation, so just why the EU is holding back makes little sense to many.