A JOINT promotional tourism program between Cebu and Russia is targeted to be launched in November or December 2020, the country’s honorary consul to Russia announced.

Honorary Consul to Russia Armi Lopez- Garcia said the program is seen to boost the tourism activities of Cebu City and cities in Russia like St. Petersburg and Vladivostok.

“Here in Cebu, we are now improving people to people contact between the City of Cebu and Vladivostok. Vladivostok is just six hours away from Cebu and the Philippines,” Garcia said, during a media huddle with Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.

With adventurous millennials flying to other countries to experience the winter season like in Japan and South Korea, Garcia said the Russian winter is also another option for them.

“While they come here to enjoy our sun, sand and sea, we go there to experience their winter,” she said.

Khovaev, for his part, said they made it easier for Filipinos to get a visa.

The Russian Embassy has made an electronic visa for tourists who want to go to the country.

“We encourage people to people contact. That’s why we make those procedures as simple as possible,” he said.

Russia is eyeing direct flights to Cebu and vice versa. As of now, only chartered flights are available for these two countries.

There were 27,264 Russian tourists who visited Central Visayas in 2019, up 20.55 percent from 2018, according to the data of the Department of Tourism (DOT) 7.

Cebu, in particular, welcomed 17,724 tourists from Russia from 14,356 recorded in 2018 or a growth rate of 23.46 percent.

Under the DOT’s National Tourism Development Plan for 2016 to 2022, the agency is seeking an increase in Russian visitor arrivals from 25,000 in 2015 to 71,000 by 2022, the last year of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.

Trade opportunities

Moreover, Khovaev said Cebu is a dynamic region and a driver for business, which makes it attractive to both Russian tourists and capitalists.

Russian investors are interested to do business in industries like energy, transportation, telecommunications and pharmaceuticals. Russians. he added, are also big spenders when they travel for holidays.

As for the Covid-19 outbreak, Khovaev said Russia has controlled the disease outbreak. It closed a 2,600-mile land border with China to prevent the virus from spreading since January.

The ambassador added they are willing to help the Philippines contain the Covid-19 spread. He said a Russian pharmaceutical company, Polisan, will donate to the Philippines medicine to help in the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

Khovaev said the medicine called Cicloferon was tested and found to be effective in the treatment of Covid-19 patients in Russia and China. (JOB)