IP - More than 150,000 mutual trips with Iran and China have taken place within the framework of the visa-free group exchange since its launch in August 2023, Nikita Kondratyev, the head of the Department of Multilateral Economic Cooperation and Special Projects at the Russian Economic Development Ministry, told TASS.

Iran PressEurope: "We have launched a group visa-free tourist exchange with China and Iran. According to the latest statistics as of yesterday, we have more than 150,000 reciprocal trips and about 50,000 inbound tourists respectively, mostly from China, came to Russia through this channel," Kondratyev said at the St. Petersburg International Travel Hub Tourism Forum.

The head of the department noted that the introduction of such a mechanism for group visa-free travel is also being discussed with India. "Now we are working with several countries in the Middle East and Asia to introduce a fully visa-free regime," he added.

"As for the creation of some comfortable conditions for the convenience of foreign guests, we are preparing to launch a tourist payment card in 25 countries starting next year. We see that due to the measures taken, the interest of foreign tourists in traveling to our country is growing. This is also evidenced by the data on the two-fold increase in the number of reservations in Russian accommodation facilities, Kondratiev said.

The Travel Hub International Tourism Forum takes place in St. Petersburg from December 13 to 15.