Russia and the United States must take steps to facilitate tourist travel between the two countries, a move that would give a big lift to overall bilateral trade, officials said Friday.
“Both sides realized that we do not have any effective relationships between each other,” Oleg Slepov, the deputy Russian trade representative to the United States, said.
Speaking after a weeklong visit to the United States by a Russian tourism delegation that included talks with U.S. officials in Washington, Slepov said Americans and Russians had too little information about tourism in each other’s countries.
“American people know well Saint Petersburg, Moscow, the ‘Golden Ring’ and, maybe, Lake Baikal. But no more,” he said.
Bilateral tourism was also hampered by onerous requirements for citizens of Russia or the United States to obtain visas to visit each other’s countries as well as by underdeveloped land, sea and air transportation links.
In a statement, the Russian trade office said the two countries agreed on the need to develop bilateral tourism and signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at expanding tourism and investment in the sector.
Leaders of the two countries have set a goal of doubling bilateral trade in the coming five years and developing tourism exchanges would contribute substantially to this, Slepov said.