Thousands of people to visit Russia for vaccination by year-end — expert

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, June 11. /TASS/. The number of foreigners arriving in Russia to undergo vaccination against COVID-19 may reach tens of thousands by the end of the year, the vice president of the Russian Union of Travel Industry, Alexander Osaulenko, told TASS.

“By the most conservative estimates, the flow of tourists can be counted in tens of thousands of people [by the end of the year],” he said on the sidelines of the Masters of Hospitality forum in the Central Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod.

According to the expert, foreign citizens have already sent enquiries about the matter to the Russian Union of Travel Industry, as well as Russian embassies and consulates.

Osaulenko went on to say that vaccine tours could be organized not only to the Russian capital Moscow or the second largest city of St. Petersburg, but to other Russian cities as well.

“At present, we are having a fairly extensive network of vaccination centers. That is why we can say that tourists will not have to go to Moscow or St. Petersburg. For example, people from Far Eastern countries or Southeast Asia may go to Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, or Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk,” he said, adding that the final decision will be made by the Russian health ministry.

At present, industry experts and officials are discussing the format of those tours, most notably whether they would last 21 days or comprise two four-day trips.

“From the economic point of view, the format of two four-day trips [is better], because it allows us to create a travel product that would be fairly simple from the financial point of view. A 21-day tour would be expensive. <…> At the same time, a tour consisting of two four-day trips will, in fact, be something like a city break,” the travel industry expert said.

Earlier, President of the Russian Union of Travel Industry (RUTI) Andrei Ignatyev said the price of a 21-day vaccine tour might range from $1,500 to 2,500, excluding airline costs.

Speaking at a plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 4, Russian President Vladimir Putin tasked the government to work on arranging fee-based vaccinations against the coronavirus infection for foreign nationals in Russia by the end of June.

Russia’s Federal Tourism Agency is ready together with travel agencies to organize inoculation tour packages for foreigners, head of the agency Zarina Doguzova told TASS on the sidelines of the SPIEF-2021.

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