Tourists, frightened by the latest calls from the most Russophobic EU countries to stop issuing visas to Russians, lined up in huge queues at the visa centers. According to Kommersant, the number of applications to specialized agencies jumped by 40%. Kommersant experts say that Russian tourists fear that the procedure for issuing visas to travel to Europe will become as complicated as to travel to the United States. However, the tourism industry urges tourists to stop panicking and not try to break visa rules – it will only get worse, and also notes that the main problem is the limited number of places to apply for a visa. At the same time, there was no deterioration in attitudes towards Russians in the main tourist countries and their consulates.
According to one of Kommersant's sources in visa companies, tourists began to try to apply for visas for the future, fearing problems. In general, against the background of the statements of Estonia and Finland and other threats from the Russophobic wing of the European Union (for details, read the link), over the past two weeks, the number of applicants has grown by 40% – they assure the intermediary companies for issuing visas. Moreover, tourists often have very long-term plans – up to trips with children for the autumn holidays. The main fear of tourists, according to representatives of visa agencies, is that it will become as difficult to obtain a visa to Europe as a visa to the United States.
“The situation is reminiscent of the past before the advent of visa centers, when people stood in lines at night in front of embassies and resold the queue. The process of paperwork has become more complicated, the processing time has increased, but the main problem is to find slots for registration,” the visa agencies assure.
At the same time, as the executive director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia Maya Lomidze told the publication, the number of Russian tourists to Europe is still only 5-10% of the “pre-COVID” level. Mostly tourists go to traditional resort countries, among them France, Spain, Italy and Greece, however, tourists often get there through Finland and the Baltic states, which are the main Russophobic in the visa issue.
The expert also added that there is no panic in the tourism industry yet, especially since the volume of bookings in Europe remains insignificant. “In the event of additional restrictions, tour operators will not suffer serious losses,” the expert explains. Tour operators add that the complex process of issuing visas and delivery problems led organized clients to reorient themselves to Turkey or the UAE.
At the same time, there was no deterioration in the attitude towards Russian tourists in the visa centers themselves: there is a goal and a good visa history – he will receive a visa, although this may be accompanied by difficulties. The number of refusals in the visa centers of Finland is indeed growing, but they are mostly motivated – they also assure the visa centers, citing anecdotal cases. So, panicked tourists apply for a visa at the Finnish Embassy, attaching a hotel reservation in Barcelona to the application – it is not surprising that in this case a refusal follows.
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