CEBU

Cebu, Russia join force to attract tourists

STRENGTHENED TIES. Honorary Consul of the Russian Federation Armi Lopez Garcia commits to help Russia and the Philippines boost their tourism traffic. (SunStar file)

THE Philippines remains an attractive destination for Russian investments, an official from Roscongress Foundation said.

Ekaterina Pugacheva, deputy head of the Directorate of International and Regional Corp. of Roscongress Foundation, said while the two-way trade volume is still low between Russia and the Philippines, there is a big potential, especially in the area of tourism.

In a virtual forum hosted by the Philippine Russian Business Assembly (PRBA), Tuesday, Oct. 13, Pugacheva highlighted Cebu’s huge potential as a tourist destination for Russians.

“This is a big thing. I think the Philippines has to promote tourism here more after the borders are opened because Thailand and Indonesia are already destinations for Russians,” she said.

Pugacheva said Russians are well aware of the globally acclaimed islands of the country, especially Cebu.

Cebu and the Visayas were hailed the 2020 Best Island in Asia by US-based travel magazine Conde Nast. It bested the popular Phuket, Thailand and Bali, Indonesia.

Armi Lopez Garcia, Honorary Consul of the Russian Federation, and chairperson of the PRBA proposed a “Meet the Philippines” approach for tourism stakeholders in Russia.

“If we can do a ‘Meet the Philippines’ forum with the foundation and invite the major tourism players like tour agencies in Russia then that would be very good. We will invite tourism officials from the industry. We also want to promote tourism in the far-eastern region because that’s very close to us,” Garcia said.

The Philippines has been courting more Russians to visit the country. Lopez said Russians are known to be long-staying and high-spending guests.

Some 36,111 Russians visited the Philippines in 2019, up by 20.50 percent from 29,967 Russians in 2018.

E-visas

On Oct. 8, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed a directive approving a list of countries whose citizens can apply for e-visas. The list comprises of 52 countries, including the Philippines, whose citizens could apply for an e-visa during the pilot stage of the project.

“Starting from 2021 Filipinos will have an easy way to visit Russia,” the Facebook post of Russian Embassy in the Philippines reads.

Russia’s pilot e-visa project was launched in 2017 and included several restrictions. It said foreigners with an e-visa could only enter Russia through checkpoints in the Far Eastern Federal District, St. Petersburg, and the Leningrad and Kaliningrad regions. They were not allowed to travel outside these regions.

“As of now, the e-visa will be applicable throughout Russia. Foreigners can enter via the specially equipped checkpoints anywhere in the country and travel throughout Russia. In addition to this, the duration of a stay for foreigners has been extended from eight to 16 days,” the embassy said.

E-visas will be issued online for tourism, business, humanitarian, and guest trips. Applicants do not need an invitation, hotel booking, or any other documents to confirm their reasons for travel.

Two-way trade

Meanwhile, in terms of trade, Russia exports metals, minerals, food products, agricultural raw materials, wood, and paper products to the Philippines while it imports machinery and equipment, vehicles and vehicle parts and chemical industry products like rubber and textile.

In 2019, the trade turnover reached US$1.122 billion—Russian export at $659 million and import from the Philippines at $427 million. Despite from the coronavirus pandemic, in January to March of this year, bilateral trade has grown to 4.4 percent, equivalent to $276.9 million—$180.8 million exports vis-a-vis $96.1 million imports.

Roscongress Foundation, which was established in 2007, aims to facilitate the development of Russia’s economic potential, promote its national interests, and strengthen the country’s image.

One of the roles of the foundation is to comprehensively evaluate, analyze and cover issues on the Russian and global economic agendas. It also offers administrative services, provides promotional support for business projects and investment, and helps foster social entrepreneurship and charitable initiatives. (JOB with KOC)


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