Giant queues form from Russia to China

Giant queues formed from Russia to China

The start of issuing visas to China in Russia caused huge demand and giant queues – not only from businessmen, but also from independent tourists. Those organized are still waiting for the issue of visa-free travel to be clarified, but there is already demand anyway. The problem is the availability of air traffic, however, from some Russian cities that traditionally supply tourists to China, it is also starting to recover.

The hype and giant queues are reported by Kommersant, citing experts from visa services and tour operators. According to the former, free slots for filing documents ended in two days. As a result, in Moscow, you can apply for a visa no earlier than two months later – on May 23, in St. Petersburg – in a month, on April 20. True, it should be borne in mind that documents are accepted only twice a week, during which time only 400 applications are submitted. Visa processing takes two to five days depending on the tariff.

First of all, demand is generated by business tourists – who, for example, expect to get to the fair in Guangzhou on April 15 – May 5. And in general, the “pivot to the east” contributes to the growth of business interest in China. But tourists have revived – so far they are independent. As, for example, estimated in OneTwoTrip, China has rapidly soared from 50th to 12th place in the ranking of popular foreign destinations and currently occupies 2% of the total volume of bookings of air tickets abroad, mainly flights to Beijing and Shanghai are booked – each destination accounts for approximately a quarter of total Chinese bookings.

Organized tourists have to wait for the launch of the visa-free group exchange program. However, according to Intourist, interest is already high – many calls are coming in, mostly tourists hope for the return of “beach” Hainan.

According to experts, if the issue of visa-free group transportation is resolved in April-May, the tourist flow to China this year can recover by 30-40% of the pre-pandemic level. Then it will “run into” limited air traffic, since the existing traffic volume is only 10–15% of the 2019 figure. While Aeroflot flights are available to China, Air China, China Eastern Airlines and Hainan Airlines also fly.

At the same time, from regions that traditionally supply China with a significant part of tourists, such as the Far East, the restoration of flights the Russian side is already in full swing. Thus, Aurora Airlines announced the restoration of flights to China from Vladivostok and Khabarovsk. According to the official website of Khabarovsk Airport, the flight program to Beijing is scheduled from March 26 to October 26, 2023. Moreover, the price of a ticket starts from 11,905 rubles one way (without luggage) and from 18,325 rubles when purchasing round-trip tickets. This is about 4 times cheaper than tickets for existing flights from Moscow. Flights from Khabarovsk to Harbin are also scheduled. Flights will operate three times a week. In addition, Aurora flights to China from Vladivostok are also scheduled to be restored.

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