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MOSCOW, September 13 (RIA Novosti) – The number of foreign tourists visiting Russia is expected to grow 30 percent to 45 percent when three-day visa-free transit is introduced, a senior Culture Ministry official said Friday.
The Russian government has this month approved draft legislation to allow foreign nationals in transit at Russian airports to remain in the country for 72 hours without visas.
“Our estimate of 30-45 percent is based on the experience of other countries that have introduced similar policies,” Deputy Culture Minister Alla Manilova said.
According to conservative estimates, the hotel industry will see its income rise 3.6 billion to 5.4 billion rubles ($110-160 million) a year, she said, adding that transportation revenues were also due to rise.
Tourism in Ukraine, which opened its borders to EU countries, has grown 150 percent, she said, without specifying the period.
She added that Russia’s own experience in introducing 72-hour visa-free transit for passengers on cruise liners and ferries had accounted for “explosive growth” in the number of tourists.
Of the 47 million foreign nationals who entered Russia last year, only 2.5 million were tourists.
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