Latvia will deprive tour operators of the opportunity to file documents for visas. Tourists will have to do it themselves
On Thursday, July 20, tour operators working with the Baltic States received an official letter from the Latvian Embassy in Russia. In it, the embassy noted that very few tourists come to the country through Russian providers of tourist services. "Despite a sharp increase of the number of issued visas by the embassy in 2016 and in the first half of 2017, less than 5% of the total number of visas were filed by accredited travel companies, which indicates that the form of current cooperation is ineffective and requires changes", - the letter says. In connection with this, "to simplify the procedure for obtaining visas" since September 1, 2017 was taken the decision to cease accreditation of Russian tour operators at the Latvian Embassy. Thus, since the autumn tourists who wish to travel to this country will need to file their documents themselves in the consular department of the embassy or Pony Express’ visa centers. As Denis Kotov, General Director of ABC Tours Russia, told that this letter was a complete surprise for suppliers selling tours to the Baltic countries. Moreover, the logic of this decree is completely incomprehensible. Now the tour operators decide in what format they will work further and whether there is a possibility to somehow influence the embassy in order to preserve the accreditation for visas. In turn, Anna Dumchenko the Head of the visa department at Biblio Globus in St. Petersburg, noted that a year ago the Russian tour operators were deprived of accreditation by Estonian embassy. The expert explains this decision simply: there is not enough tourist flow to the Baltic countries, therefore it is easier for consular departments to transfer this mission to visa centers. According to Aleksei Krasavin, the Head of the Baltic department at NTK Intourist, naturally, the decision of the Latvian Embassy will negatively affect on the tourist flow to the country. Also, incoming companies and partners, oriented to work with Russian-speaking tourists, will suffer.