Earlier, the e-visa practice proved effective in Russia's Far East
The option to obtain electronic visas (e-visas), like the e-visas issued for traveling to the Far East, may attract more foreigners to Chukotka and Yakutia, the regional officials and tourism experts told TASS.
Earlier, Russia’s State Duma (parliament’s lower house) adopted the first reading of a bill, under which tourists with e-visas, coming to the Far East via Vladivostok, would be allowed to visit all regions of the Far East, not only the one, in which they arrive.
Experts told TASS that the Arctic tourism develops actively, but anyway the growth is limited by strict travel requirements.
According to the Chukotka-Discovery Company’s Director Alexander Petrenko, foreigners have to apply for visas one to three months ahead of the trip, while visitors applying for e-visas have to begin formalities online only four days prior to the planned entry.
"Traveling to Chukotka is rather problematic for foreigners," Angela Bystrykh of Kutkh Travel told TASS. "The region has a special border control regime, and visitors in addition to visas have to apply for permissions, which should be approved by the FSB [intelligence service]."
At the same time, Yakutia’s Minister of Business, Trade and Tourism Irina Vysokikh said, the Arctic tourism is a most dynamic direction. "Hiking, expeditions, skiing, mountain climbing and so forth attract not only experienced adventurers but those who want to discover the Arctic but do not have many days to spend there, and here e-visas could make Russian Arctic regions more accessible for travelers visiting the Far East," she said.
Expecting more tourists to visit the North
All experts have told TASS that e-visas could be of demand, and thus the number of tourists, going to the northern districts, would grow. Director General of LenaTurFlot — a company, which organizes river cruises in Yakutia — Baktybek Yegorov told TASS that foreigners, mostly Europeans, enjoy cruises to the North.
Foreigners make 25% of tourists on two-day cruises to the Lena Pillars — a nature park, which is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. According to the company’s director general, present formalities limit the number of visitors, and new e-visa regulations could foster higher interest in the northern districts.
Nadezhda Guryeva of Sakha Tourism also pointed to foreigners’ interest towards the Arctic. Yakutia attracts tourists by its nature attractions, she added.
"Most [tourists] want to see the picturesque nature, and others are fond of extreme tourism, including tours to ride Yakut horses… <…> In my opinion, the Yakut severe winter is an attraction, and foreigners come here to see how they may survive in minus 50 [degrees Celsius]," she told TASS.
Chukotka-Discovery’s representative hopes that with eased visa formalities the number of people coming to Chukotka will grow. "Those, who dream of coming here, are prepared to spend effort and time to come — they are highly motivated tourists," he said. "On the other hand, if the formalities are eased, we may see more and more people coming here."
E-visa for the Far East was introduced in August 2017. Travelers apply for it online four days before the planned arrival. The visa is free.
More than 120,000 foreigners have come to the Far East enjoying benefits of e-visas. The option is available for citizens of 19 countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Brunei, India, Iran, Qatar, China, North Korea, Kuwait, Morocco, Mexico, the UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tunisia, Turkey and Japan. Taiwan joined the list on June 19, 2019, and its 159 residents have visited the Far East already.