Finns in favour of restrictions on Russian tourism

 Monday, August 1, 2022 

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Busses carrying Russian tourists entering Finland at the Nuijamaa border at the southeast of the country.

Some hope to enjoy the tranquil Finnish summer while other plan to travel further to Europe.

Following Moscow’s Ukraine invasion, Finland may seek a membership from the NATO.

But this Nordic country is Russia’s only neighbour to grant tourist visas to Russian citizens.

After the EU shut its airspace to Russian flights, Finland has also become an important transit country for Russians looking to fly elsewhere in Europe.

But, many Finns are unhappy with this decision. While Ukrainians are suffering a brutal Russian invasion, and the latter enjoying a pleasant Finish summer- the thought has been met with indignation.


A local named Kirsi Iljin said that allowing the Russians to travel freely to Finland violates the basis for the sanctions. There should be some restrictions for the Russians to travel to Finland.

Restrictions proposed

As an act of solidarity with Ukraine, Finland’s conservative opposition party proposed a halt to new tourist visas for Russians this week.

Ukraine’s citizens are being killed, including civilians, women and children, and at the same time Russians are spending holidays in the EU.

MPs from different parties voice support for visa restrictions which implies that there is widespread backing for the proposal in the Finish parliament.

Other Schengen countries that share a border with Russia — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland — have already restricted Russian visas.

On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia “would react very negatively” to proposed restrictions.


Full buses

Russia lifted its travel restrictions on Finland on July 15. Since then the number of tourists heading towards Finland have been increasing steadily. Finland removed its travel restrictions at the end of June.

Although the tourist traffic is still under the pre COVID levels, there were more than 185,000 border crossings in July which is more than the 125,000 s seen in June.

Finland issued over 10,000 new visas to Russians in July, according to local media reports.

Bus companies in St. Petersburg reported that there is an increased demand for trips to England. Many will travel on from Finland by plane, circumventing the Russian flight ban.


‘Absurd idea’

While many Finns feel solidarity with Ukrainians, Russian tourists are an important source of income for Finnish border towns.

Many business owners in the Lappeenranta municipality by the border worry about the prospect of Russian tourists disappearing again.

Traditionally, people living on the border have had close contact with their neighbours either side, but this has changed drastically following the pandemic and the war.

Surovtcev has a five-year visa to Finland and visits the country up to 10 times a year, but he fears the planned restrictions could put an end to his travels in the country.

He said that he will be very sad and disappointed and he also hopes that the war will soon end.


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