Ambassador: Fewer Russian Tourists over Bulgaria's Tough Visa RulesTourism | May 30, 2010, Sunday // 16:57| views
Russian Ambassador to Bulgaria Yury Isakov predicts a drop of Russian tourists because of strict visa requirements. Photo by BGNES
Russia keeps demanding from Bulgaria a visa-free travel regime, stated Yury Isakov, Ambassador to the Russian Federation.
Isakov made Sunday an unofficial visit to the city of Kardzhali in Southern Bulgaria together with the Ambassadors of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.
The Ambassador says that Russia has been asking for a renunciation of the Bulgarian visas for its citizens but the Bulgarian authorities keep turning down these requests with the motive that Bulgaria is aspiring to join the Schengen Agreement.
He has pointed out that at the same time neighboring states such as Turkey have practically waived their visas for Russian tourists.
“Guess where the Russian tourists will choose to go. Most likely to Turkey,” Isakov said forecasting a decline of the number of Russians traveling to Bulgaria even though he was unable to provide specific data about the recent trend are not available yet.
“Your country must be more flexible in the visa relations with Russia because it can only profit from that, especially in a time of economic crisis. The Russian tourists are not greedy, and they bring a lot of money with them, which Bulgaria will need. The issue is important for Bulgaria, first and foremost,” explained His Excellency.
About 300 000 Russian tourists visit Bulgaria annually but according to Isakov their number can be 4-5 times larger.
“Bulgaria has been and will be a preferred destination because your nation is close to us, your language is close to ours, and the distance is short – a two-hour flight. You don’t have to invent the wheel – just look at what your neighbors are doing,” recommended the Russian Ambassador.
Isakov commented on the three large-scale joint energy projects by saying that he was optimistic about their development because they were 100% in the interest of both countries.
He did say, however, that the Bulgarian side needed to be faster as far as the operational tasks for the completion of the Belene NPP, South Stream, and the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline are concerned.
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