Officially, the visa-free regime with China was resumed in February after the pandemic ended. But in reality, no one has yet sent tour groups to China without a visa. The mechanism for visa-free entry into China is not yet in place. “Now this issue is at the stage of technological coordination and approval of lists of tour operators who can apply for visa-free entry to the group,” says Dmitry Gorin, vice-president of the Russian Union of Tourism Industry. journey. But the exact dates for the start of this mechanism have not yet been determined, he adds.
From March 15, it is possible to obtain individual visas. They are in demand. According to players in the tourist market, it is now possible to register for individual visas, depending on the city, in April or even at the end of May. All registration slots are filled quickly, and these slots are not many, only a few hundred visas are issued per week.
As a result, and as such, there are no tours in China yet, explains Sergey Golov, president of the Union of Travel Agencies. According to him, now mainly businessmen go to China, package tours have not yet been formed.
But it is not only the inactive visa-free regime. “Tour operators have to count on something when selling tours, especially on the volume of transport,” notes Golov. For now, he says, negotiations are just beginning and tour operators tied to airline flight programs are waiting for certainty to emerge.
While tours in China are quite expensive. Only a round-trip ticket from Moscow to Beijing will cost around 65,000 rubles each way. A week-long visit, according to aggregators, will cost more than 200,000 rubles for two without meals. Visa-free tours will be cheaper, as tour operators rely on charter flights.
Now the main flow to China comes from the Khabarovsk and Amur regions, Golov notes. Above all, those who have been in business for three years and who have not been able to go to China go there. It will take time for the situation to stabilize.
“Also, we don’t have so many opportunities for long-haul air transport right now to spend the volumes available in China. There are many other directions,” Golov said.
Now there are flights to Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing, notes Gorin. If flights to Harbin are opened, it is possible that visa-free entry there will be launched using a separate technology. In any case, this information came from the airline Aeroflot, according to some market participants.
Anyway, in February Aeroflot announced that it could increase the frequency of flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou – up to daily, to Chengdu – up to three times a week. The airline planned to launch the new seasonal program from March 26.
In a statement from the airline dated March 24, the airline confirmed the switch to summer schedule from March 26, but nothing was said about the expansion of flights to China.
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