Removal of visa restrictions and opening of direct flights between Russia and Saudi Arabia might increase tourist flow
Russia and Saudi Arabia are discussing the possibility of mutual cancellation of visas. Experts of the Russian tourism market evaluated the prospects of growth of tourist flows between countries, existing opportunities and barriers. During a state visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Saudi Arabia, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Rostourism and the Commission on Tourism and the National Heritage of Saudi Arabia. As Rostourism emphasized, the removal of visa restrictions is an urgent issue for the two countries. The Russian Federation was included in the list of 49 countries, whose citizens since the end of September can visit Saudi Arabia with an electronic visa. The Federal Tourism Agency reminded that in Russia an electronic visa is valid for tourists, who visit the regions of the Far East, the Kaliningrad region, St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region.
According to the Federal Tourism Agency, a possible visa-free regime, as well as the issue of opening direct flights between Russia and Saudi Arabia, was being discussed during the meeting. Russian tour operators welcome a tourist prospects with Saudi Arabia. According to the general director of Space Travel Arthur Muradyan, the Russians are interested in traveling to Saudi Arabia. But there are a number of barriers.
“Russian pilgrims actively travel to this country all year round, and tour operators send excursion groups. But there are several factors that affect demand. Firstly, this is the lack of resort infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, and our tourists want to see not only the sights, but also relax on the beaches. It is encouraging that Saudi Arabia announced the implementation of several large projects in the Red Sea, so in a few years we could offer a beach product”, Arthur Muradyan says. The head of Space Travel also draws attention to the lack of direct transportation from Russia: now there are direct flights only during the Hajj, and flights with changes are high priced. So, the cost of tickets is higher than for other Middle Eastern destinations.
Yury Mishchenko, graduated from Moscow Institute of Foreign Languages, has more than 15 years experience in tourism and travel. Working both in tour operator company as destination manager, and in travel agency as sales manager, he is focused on analysis of Russian tour operators’ daily routine. Recently, Yury works in Baginet Marketing and Sales Agency.