[IMG=20368-6123]Apparently the next season Russian tourists will apply for Maltese visa to the Finnish Consulate. ‘The certain Agreement between the two countries has been signed already’, said Antony Karuana, the Head of Malta Tourism Board in Moscow.
In 2007 Malta plan to join Schengen countries. The final decision has not been made yet, however the visa issue was already raised. Meanwhile, experts say that the Maltese Consulate in Moscow is not ready for application flow from Russian tourists, as for the last years the Consulate has not deal with visa issuing process – the Maltese visas are issued on arrival upon the certain confirmations from the incoming company. Therefore, the Finnish Consulate will be responsible for a visa issuing process. According to Karuana, other European Consulates might also take responsibility for issuing visas to Malta.
Meanwhile, travel market players are concerned about the possible implications of the initiative. Firstly, they doubt the Finnish consulate will cope with both ‘Maltese’ and ‘Finnish’ tourists. On July 7th a BANKO correspondent could not receive comments in the Consulate. However, the tour operators that specialize in the Finnish market point out that the Embassy of the country could initiate such a responsible step only being sure about its success.
Secondly, tour operators believe, that the necessity to apply for the Maltese visas might affect the demand for the country. ‘I am mostly concerned about tourists from regional cities. At the moment they simply book a tour but then will have to send documents to the Consulate by post and wait for a decision…I am afraid it might affect the Russian interest in Malta’, said Irina Denina, the Head of the Mediterranean Department of Solvex-travel.
Nevertheless, many experts advise not to rush into panic. Yulia Fetisova, General Director of Consol said: ‘if there are problems, we will solve them on an on-going basis’.
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