Russian Tourism Union sends letter to Russia’s EU Office

Alena Donskaya, 18.07.2014 11:30
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As TRN News has already reported, next year the European Union plans to introduce the mandatory procedure of fingerprint recognition for countries that are not members of the Schengen Area, as part of the Visa Information System (VIS).

In light of this, ATOR (Association of Tour Operators) has sent a letter to Cesare Maria Ragaglini, Italy's ambassador to Russia, because starting July 1 Italy has been holding the Presidency of the EU Council. Tour operators ask the ambassador to either initiate the abolition of the procedure or introduce a special visa status for tourists staying in Schengen countries for less than 30 days.

Russian Tourism Union (RST) also took action by sending a letter to Vygaudas Ušackas, Head of the Russian office of the EU, to ask for clarification on the proposed changes in the procedure of getting a Schengen visa.

"Travel companies need to know the timeline regarding the procedure," it says in the letter, "since uncertainty may undermine the travel market, both Russian and European. The requirement to personally visit consulates (which not all Russian cities have) when submitting applications is likely to decrease the demand for tours to Europe, at least during one or two years after the introduction of the procedure."

According to the RST data, when this procedure was introduced last year in Kazakhstan, the tourist flow to some European countries dropped 70% and is still below the former level. That is why Russian tour operators will probably have to adjust their plans in regard to European destinations in order to minimize losses due to the possible drop in demand.

According to the RST, the letter contained the following questions: “When will the fingerprint recognition procedure be introduced for visa applicants?”, “How will the procedure be conducted, when will there be official information on that?”, “Will all the EU countries adopt the procedure simultaneously, or is there a schedule?”, and “Should Russian holders of a valid multiple entry visa undergo the procedure, or can they do it when applying for a new visa?”

Once RST gets a response, it will share it with Russian travel companies, so that tour operators could plan their actions as regards European destinations in advance.

Страны, регионы и города: Europe, Italy, Kazakhstan
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