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Russia's Kaliningrad May Get a Visa-Free Entry into EU
30.07.2011 16:00
Russia's Kaliningrad May Get a Visa-Free Entry into EU

The EU officials are about to acknowledge Kaliningrad as a border region between Russia, Poland, and Lithuania. The citizens of Kaliningrad may no longer need a visa to go to Europe.

Speaking at the press-conference on July 29, the European Commission representative Michele Cercone said that the decision was being made, following the requests from the mentioned three countries. Previously, Lithuania spoke against visa entry liberalisation. The country has subsequently agreed to change the mind, provided the European officials also approve of the visa-free entry for Kaliningrad Region.

This is good news, as the first half of 2011 was marked by several diplomatic gaffs and complications concerning visa entry to Europe for Russians. There was a short-time concern among Russian tour operators regarding the visas to Norway, following the terrorist attack on July 22, 2011. However, Norwegian embassy confirmed that this is not going to affect the visa entry requirements for Russian citizens.

In the meantime, the tourist influx to Britain has diminished, due to visa restrictions. Earlier this year the Russian media reported that Chris Bryant, the British Minister for Europe, was against visa entry liberalisation for Russians. He claimed that until Russia solved problems with organised crime, Britain must protect its citizens from incoming potential criminals from Russia. This is a curious statement, considering that Mr Bryant also said that he saw no problem with relaxing the visa regime for business travellers.

Sadly for British tourism, the country's popularity among Russians has decreased in the recent months, due to a high volume of visa declines to Russian citizens. Reportedly, even a superlative bank account may still solicit a decline, and having tickets and hotels booked for travel does not change the mind of a consulate officer. Visa fees are also non-refundable. Additionally, as of July 2011, the British embassy is said to have doubled the time in which visa application is considered.

The Association of Russian Tour Operators state that, as a result, the tourist influx to Great Britain from Russia has fallen by 30 per cent, compared to last year's. Russian tourists, wanting to go abroad, tend to choose different destinations this summer.


SourcesEuromag, DigestWeb. Image courtesy: Euromag.
Author: Julia Shuvalova

Tags: Russian tourism European Commission Kaliningrad Region   

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