According to RIA Novosti, from tomorrow Chinese tourists will no longer need visas when they visit Russia on an organised tour.
According to Shengeliya, 1.7 million Russians visited China in 2004, while 800,000 Chinese arrived in Russia, no more than 200,000 of them for tourist purposes. Russia could host up to one million Chinese tourists in 2006.
The interstate agreement stipulates tough regulations for the registration of a tour and provides for 30-day, visa-free stay in the country.
I think the key here is that tour companies will be the ones to face tough regulations to get permits, a process which should take away a lot of hassle from the average Chinese tourist and may well encourage increased levels of tourism from the ever-growing Chinese tour market. Theoretically, this will also prevent significant abuse of the system by Chinese wishing to live illegally in Siberia and the Far East – a major concern among the Russian public and government. Whether this will be the case, though, we’ll have to wait and see.
Still, yet another sign of the increasingly close relationship between Russia and China…