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    Austria Grateful to Russia for Easing Visa Restrictions

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    Vienna believes Russia made a positive step when announced its decision to ease visa restrictions for Austrian tourists, Austrian Ambassador to Russia Emil Brix told Sputnik on Friday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On January 12, Russian Ambassador to Austria Dmitry Lyubinsky said that Austrian nationals may now apply for a two-entry Russian visa valid for six months.

    "We are thankful for the Russian side to have visa for half a year. This is a very positive step from the Russian side," Brix said.

    The ambassador admitted that Austria was not considering similar measures at the moment but expressed hope that a number of Russian tourists will increase this year.

    "Our hope is that — not so much by the visa question but by attracting people through the offers of our touristic organizations — to make this year a success and increase a number of tourists," Emil Brix said.

    Austria has witnessed an increase in the number of Russian tourists since the beginning of the year, which is a sign that trust is coming back to the relations between the two countries, Emil Brix told Sputnik.

    "Already now I hear from our touristic destinations in Austria, winter destinations, that the number of Russians is increasing again. Certainly this is also a beginning of better economic situation in Russia but to a certain extent it is an expression of trust between countries," the ambassador said.

    Brix added that tourists planning trips to Austria may be certain of a warm welcome and safety.

    "Tourists want to go to places where they may ski in winter season and relax, but secondly they want to be in secure situation and to be among friends. That can be an offer in Austria," the diplomat said.

    Russia and Austria celebrate the bilateral year of tourism in 2017, with a number of events and exhibitions aimed to attract tourists scheduled to take place.

    Since 2014, Austria has seen a sharp decrease in Russian tourists after the European Union introduced a series of economic sanctions which hit the Russian economy hard.

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    visa regime, tourism, Emil Brix, Russia, Austria
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