In September 2013, the Year of Tourism of Italy and Russia 2013/2014 began. In connection with this event, the Consulate General of Italy, located in St. Petersburg, decided to make a kind of gift to the Russians - a free annual visa to Italy!
For starters, a little background ...
Russians in Italy
In 2012, about 800 thousand Russians visited Italy (against 120 thousand Italians who visited Russia). At the same time, they left more than a billion euros in the country (over the past five years this figure has increased by 250%), while the total expenses of Russians abroad amount to about 25 billion euros. According to Andrea Babbi, head of the Italian National Tourism Authority (ENIT), “the most generous tourist is a Russian tourist,” according to statistics, Russians spend an average of 194 euros a day in Italy. Already they are followed by the Japanese with 152 euros and the Americans with 114 euros. But that is not all. According to ENIT forecasts, despite the fact that over the past 10 years, the flow of Russian tourists going on a beach holiday to Italy has doubled already, in the next three years, a double increase in the number of visits to Italy by Russians is again expected.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the Italian government decided to simplify the procedure for obtaining visas for Russians. The website of the Italian Consulate General in St. Petersburg describes two key positions related to simplification of the procedure:
Long-stay multiple entry visas
- Each visa request will be considered individually, however, in general, Russians who already had a Schengen visa (not necessarily issued by the Italian embassy, but also by any other representative office of the European Union) will be able to get a multiple-entry visa for one year;
- Those who have two or more Schengen visas in their passport (also not necessarily Italian) will receive a multi-Schengen for two years;
- And avid travelers who have already obtained an annual visa in the past will have the opportunity to request a visa for a longer period - up to 3 years.
Throughout the Year of Tourism of Italy and Russia, visas will be issued free of charge to the following categories of people:
- participants in events related to the Year of Tourism;
- applicants interested in the further development of tourism between countries: tour operators, heads of travel agencies, heads and responsible persons of travel associations and newspapers, journalists in the field of tourism.
I would especially like to note that now Visas for children under 18 years of age and for students became free.