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russian visa

Tourists equated with guest workers
January 31, 2007 16:07

The federal law On migration records of foreign citizens and persons without Russian citizenship, which came into force on the 15th of January 2007, has affected the tourist industry and has considerably complicated hotels` work. Before the law was officially introduced, hotels had to personally put a stamp on the migration card a tourist showed when settling in a hotel. This stamp confirmed legality of a guests stay in the city. Since now, hotel representatives have 24 hours to submit a notification about a guests registration in the Migration Service and get a snap-apart talon which becomes the only valid document letting foreign tourists stay in the city legally. Before their departure, tourists have to hand the talon back to the hotels administration that has to bring the talon back to the Migration Service till 12am of the next day.

The main problem, according to vice-president of the north-western department of the Russian Union of tourist industry Sergey Korneev, is the schedule of local migration services that accept documents only 4 days a week and for only 2-4 hours a day. At that, only one employee of the Migration Service works with foreign guests` records. Taking into account that every central district has several tens of hotels, a local migration service is unlikely to cope with all applications in high tourist seasons.

As the commercial director of the hotel Ambassador Dmitry Machikhin marks, it is usually needed to collect 4-8 documents for every guest; besides, all of the papers are usually carefully checked in the Federal Migration Service, which generally takes 3 minutes for each person. On the 19th of January registration of 12 guests took us 3 hours without taking into account the time we spent to get to the Migration Service. With the beginning of the high tourist season registration of 200 foreign guests will mean execution of more than 800 papers, and it is impossible to imagine how much time it will take employees of the Migration Service to check all documents, because other hotels will bring the same quantity of papers, - Dmitry Machikhin comments.

The director of the hotel Bratya Karamazovy (The Brothers Karamazov) Veronica Sharova shares the opinion of her colleague: They are compelling us to take a step back by halting electronic informational exchange with the help of our computer programme Guest and imposing going back to time consuming paper work. It is unclear what this is being done for. Perhaps, the law was initially developed as the means of toughening conditions for the cheap labour force influx, but it resulted in making all foreign guests fall under this category, - Veronica Sharova says.

The status of a foreign tourist on the first day of their staying in the city remains unclear as well. In fact, a foreign guest without a talon can be equated with an illegal immigrant and apprehended by police. Representatives of the Federal Migration Service cannot give answers to these questions at the moment. The commercial director of Renaissance St. Petersburg Baltic Hotel Liubov Aprelikova suggests that every local department of the Migration Service must open a special window for working with hotels in daily regime. However, experts are sure that the situation can be improved for better only by the joint efforts of professionals and governmental organs.


Translation: Lavrentyeva Natalya


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