Moscow makes a bid to woo tourists; Foreign Tourist Card in the offing
During the pandemic the tourist flow to Moscow had dropped significantly. However, the number of Indian tourists is slowly witnessing an uptrend.
MOSCOW: To woo tourists from across the world, the Moscow City Tourism Committee is taking several measures and to address payment-related issues the Russian government is planning to come out with a virtual 'Foreign Tourist Card', that will enable cashless payments for various services.
During the Covid pandemic the tourist flow to Moscow had dropped significantly. However, the number of Indian tourists visiting Moscow is slowly witnessing an uptrend and with tourist-friendly measures like e-visa this number is likely to grow in the coming months.
''We are still on our way to restore the flow of Indian tourists in Moscow like it used to be before the pandemic. Before the pandemic, there was very steady growth like 12-15 per cent on a y-o-y basis,'' said Bulat Nurmukhanov, Head of International Cooperation Division of Moscow City Tourism Committee.
Travelling to Moscow has now become easier as tourists from India and 54 other countries can apply for an electronic visa to enter Russia from August 1, 2023.
Moreover, initiatives like the Foreign Tourist Card will help address payment-related issues, after the departure of MasterCard and Visa from the Russian market, Bulat said.
''There is an initiative by the Federal Government of Russia to develop a 'Foreign Tourist Card'. The initiative is under process, some legislative documents have been amended in order to make this card possible.
''The idea behind this card is, a person back home in India can remotely apply for this card and then he/she can transfer money from the personal bank account to this bank account,'' Bulat added.
This will be a virtual card and this will be issued to the person back home. This card will address the payment-related issues of foreign tourists in Moscow.
To give more travel options to tourists, in March this year, Russian flag carrier Aeroflot increased the frequency of its flight services on the Delhi-Moscow route to seven times a week against four weekly services earlier.
India and Russia ''in principle'' agreed to revise their bilateral air services agreement earlier this month, allowing Russian carriers to operate up to 64 flights per week from 52 to India.
Russian carriers are allowed to operate these flights to six Indian cities -- Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Kolkata, Amritsar and Ahmedabad.
''We are really looking forward to the Indian Airlines to restore their flight connections to Moscow. Right now only Aeroflot is operating flights between Delhi and Goa. However, there are some other options available from Dubai to Moscow,'' Bulat said.
In a bid to tackle the language barrier that makes arriving in and navigating in a new country quite intimidating, there are seven tourist centres across Moscow. It also has a call centre for foreign tourists in case they need any help, Bulat said.
''We are working on translating the city navigation into English. Our businesses are really active and quick to respond to what the market requires,'' Bulat added.