Tourists sailing to Russia aboard yachts could soon be allowed to stay in the country without a visa for up to three days, according to a bill being considered by the Russian government.
The bill, posted on the government legislative commission’s website on Tuesday, would let foreign tourists arriving to Russia on sports and recreational sailing ships enter visa-free and stay for up to 72 hours.
Most foreign tourists currently need a visa and an official invitation from an authorized body, such as a yacht club, to visit Russian ports by boat. Cruise ship passengers are allowed to stay up to 72 hours without a visa if they only disembark on official cruise tours and stay overnight on board the ship.
Russia’s Transport Ministry came up with the idea, the commission's statement said, in a bid to increase the number of “yacht tourists” coming to Russia.
The commission said the change would attract tourists to more varied Russian regions, encouraging those ports to develop local infrastructure.
Not every port in Russia will be covered by the new law, however: the commission said it will make a list of port cities allowed to make the visa exemption, as well as a list of countries to whose citizens the bill applies.
Russia hosted the First International Yacht Festival in its southern Black Sea in June and July this year.