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02:07 GMT +3 hours18 December 2014
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Russia

Russia, Macau Open Visa-Free Travel

Russia
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A bilateral agreement on non-visa travel between Russia and Macau comes into effect on Sunday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

A bilateral agreement on non-visa travel between Russia and Macau comes into effect on Sunday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The agreement was signed in June to boost Russia’s tourist exchange with the exotic special administrative region of the People's Republic of China, widely known as Asian Las Vegas.

“Russian citizens are now allowed to enter Macau for a period of up to 30 days without a visa, with the same applying to Macau passport holders travelling to Russia,” the ministry said in a statement.

According to the Russian Embassy in China, more than 16,000 Russian tourists visited Macau in 2011.

A similar visa-free regime already exists between Russia and Hong Kong, which is another special administrative region of China. The number of Russian tourists visiting Hong Kong increased threefold since the respective visa-free agreement came into effect in 2009.

Macau, a former Portuguese colony, became a special administrative region of China in 1999 and has gradually turned into a glitzy gambling capital which every year generates five times more in gross gaming revenues than the casinos in Las Vegas.

Under the policy of "one country, two systems", China is responsible for the territory's defense and foreign affairs, while Macau maintains its own legal system, police force, monetary system, customs policy, and immigration policy.