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Published on : Friday, May 6, 2016
Russia wants its custom and immigration staff to brush up their English as providing foreign tourists a common language to communicate in is the most effective way of drawing tourists. Tourists often find the delays at the immigration counters and dearth of English signage frustrating. If the country hopes to attract foreign tourism it is mandatory to make the staff more familiar with the English language.
The focus is now on outbound tourism and the country hopes loop in $40 billion in tourism by 2020. Rimma Sachunova, deputy chairperson of the St. Petersburg Committee on Tourism Development expressed that there is no excuse for the custom office to knot know English. There needs to be an increase of the knowledge of the language among the custom desk.
A group of travel agents from Moscow were detained for three hours at the Domodedovo airport. Sachunova feels that since there is a lot of focus on the Indian market the custom desk has to improve their communication in the language.
Ekaterina Borisova, attached to the Moscow Tourism Office, hoped that the federal government’s plan to set up a tourist office at major transit points used by international tourists could help cut down on the delay at Russian immigration and customs counters.
“We are trying to make customs (and immigration) more open, but unfortunately it takes time. Hopefully, we will open a tourist office at the airport, railway stations and all places where tourists arrive,” she said.
Sachunova also said that efforts to include the English language in the city’s road and Metro signage were already underway.
“We are working at ensuring that there is more signage in English at St. Petersburg. In fact St. Petersburg is the only city in Russia that has English signage in all its Metro stations,” she said.
While the lack of knowledge of the English language both among officials and amongst the populace is an acknowledged impediment, when it comes to enhancing tourist inflows to Russia from India, Paresh Navani of the Russian Information Centre, India, claimed that visa norms should be tinkered to allow easy access to Indians to visit Russia as tourists.
“With the Russian Federation opening up its policies and borders to ease tourism, this gives Indians the opportunity to tour these locations with ease, safety, comfort and at very reasonable costs compared to any other European destination and even in comparison to domestic destinations in India,” Navani said.
Over 50,000 Indian tourists visit Russia annually, while around 200,000 Russians visit India, especially Goa, every year.