Saint Petersburg‘s tourism professionals are renewing efforts to promote the Russian city as a key destination for events, riding on the back of the introduction of an e-visa for foreign travellers.
The city is known for a broad variety of events. The famed yearly Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg hosted more than 19,000 participants from 145 countries in 2019, and numbers are expected to grow again rapidly once the world emerges from the Covid crisis.
In the year of the pandemic, St Petersburg played a significant role in maintaining the tourist flow to the regions of North-West Russia. The Lastochka train connects St. Petersburg with a number of regional tourist centres and territories of the Northwestern Federal District. Thanks to the launch of the Moscow-St. Petersburg M11 “Neva” high-speed highway and the modern renewed network of highways, the regions of the North-West have become much more accessible for tourists traveling by car. Last year it turned out to be especially in demand and popular.
According to experts, an electronic visa is the most progressive way to attract foreign tourists and an effective means of promoting Russian tourism in modern realities. Sergey Korneev, Chairman of the St Petersburg’s Committee for Tourism Development, noted that the world tourism community today is ready to restore tourist flows, as all countries are preparing new tourism products to attract tourists.
In 2019, Saint Petersburg and the Leningrad Region became subjects of the Russian Federation, into which foreign tourists could enter using an e-visa. This played a significant role in increasing the tourist flow of the city. At the end of 2019, the northern capital was visited by 10.4 million tourists. More than 4.9 million of them were citizens of foreign countries, 5.5 million were Russians. Compared to 2018, the tourist flow increased by 26.8%.
Since the start of the pilot project and until the introduction of restrictive measures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued more than 151,000 e-visas to visit Saint Petersburg and the Leningrad Region. The TOP-5 countries, whose citizens have issued the most e-visas for the specified period, include Estonia, France, Latvia, Germany and Finland.
From January 1st, 2021, entry into the territory of the Russian Federation under a simplified procedure became available for citizens of 52 countries. A single e-visa is a single-entry visa, and its validity period is 60 days with the possibility of staying in the country no more than 16 days from the date of entry. A visa is issued on a paid basis (cost $ 40). For children under 6 years of age, a single electronic visa is issued free of charge. While for the moment, the issuance of electronic visas to foreigners has been temporarily suspended due to the Covid crisis, it will resume as soon as all restrictions due to the pandemic are lifted.
“We hope that as the pandemic weakens and the restrictions on international tourism are lifted, we will be able to meet the deferred demand from as many travellers as possible, which is very important for the recovery of the tourism economy and dozens of related industries and spheres of city life, and attract new guests. to St. Petersburg,” said Korneev.
Even throughout 2020, St. Petersburg continued to pursue an extensive marketing campaign. The main goal is for tourism organisations and potential travellers from 52 countries to be able to familiarise themselves with the new opportunities of St Petersburg in advance and to take into account the availability of a single electronic visa in planning sales and trips by the time countries begin to actively open their borders for international tourism.
An interregional tourist, historical and cultural project: “Silver Necklace of Russia”.
The “Silver Necklace” project unites 11 regions of the North-West of Russia and invites tourists to visit historical cities, regional centres, large settlements that have preserved unique monuments of history and culture, as well as natural sites. Unique routes pass through the holy places of the North-West of Russia and Peter’s cities, outposts and northern ports. Travelers are able to become acquainted with wooden architecture, northern crafts, can walk along the path of the Varangians and the roads of the Great Victory.
The main goal of the project, which has been implemented over nine years, is to consolidate efforts to increase the tourist flow to the regions and thus contribute to the socio-economic development of the territories.