India and Russia set to discuss visa-free tourism agreement in June

India and Russia are poised to begin a landmark dialogue that could lead to visa-free tourist exchanges between the two countries, aiming to significantly enhance tourism flows. The first round of discussions is scheduled for June, during which the countries will explore the feasibility of a bilateral agreement that could be finalised by the end of the year, Sputnik reported.

Nikita Kondratyev, Director of the Department of Multilateral Economic Cooperation and Special Projects at Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development, shared details about the upcoming talks at the Russia-Islamic World: KazanForum 2024. The event, held in Kazan, Russia, served as a platform for Kondratyev to highlight the advances in negotiations on group visa-free trips, as per a news article published in India Today.

“We are nearing the final stages of internal coordination with the Indian delegation and will soon discuss a draft agreement,” Kondratyev explained.

Further expressing optimism about the timeline, Kondratyev stated, “I think that in June we will hold the first consultations with them to discuss the draft agreement. We plan to sign by the end of the year.”

This initiative is part of Russia’s broader strategy to enhance international tourism and cultural exchange. Earlier in February, the ministry had announced its intention to implement visa-free exchanges with India by the end of 2024, underscoring the strategic importance of India in Russia’s tourism and economic plans, reported India Today 

India and Russia set to discuss visa free tourism agreement in June

Russia’s visa-free tourism program isn’t exclusive to India. The country successfully launched similar initiatives with China and Iran starting August 1, 2023. These agreements have facilitated easier group travel, fostering greater understanding and cooperation between Russia and these nations.

The proposed visa-free arrangement with India, if successful, is expected to open new avenues for travellers, enhance cultural exchanges and economic ties between the two historically cooperative nations. With the formal talks set to begin in June, stakeholders in the tourism industry are keenly watching for what could be a significant boost to tourism and people-to-people relations between India and Russia.

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