Finns demand restrictions on Russian vacationers whereas Ukrainians undergo amid Russia-Ukraine struggle, ET TravelWorld News, ET TravelWorld

Finns demand restrictions on Russian tourists while Ukrainians suffer amid Russia-Ukraine war

Buses of Russian vacationers stream into Finland at Nuijamaa border crossing within the nation’s Southeast, some hoping to benefit from the peaceable Finnish summer season and others planning to journey additional into Europe.

Finland could also be searching for NATO membership following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, however the Nordic nation stays Russia’s solely EU neighbor to grant vacationer visas to Russian residents. “I have traveled here for 12 years,” 37-year-old Boris Surovtcev from Saint Petersburg advised AFP whereas ready to cross. “This is a wonderful country with nature and lakes.”

After the EU shut its airspace to Russian flights, Finland has additionally grow to be an vital transit nation for Russians trying to fly elsewhere in Europe. But many Finns are sad with the state of affairs, and the considered Russians having fun with a Finnish summer season whereas Ukrainians undergo underneath a brutal invasion has been met with indignation.

“It just isn’t proper that Russians can freely journey to Finland. It takes away the idea for the sanctions,” local Kirsi Iljin said. “I think there should be some restrictions.”

Restrictions proposed
As an act of solidarity with Ukraine, Finland’s conservative opposition party proposed a halt to new tourist visas for Russians this week. “This state of affairs is insufferable,” Jukka Kopra, a National Coalition Party MP told AFP.

“Ukraine’s citizens are being killed, including civilians, women and children, and at the same time Russians are spending holidays in the EU.” There appears to be widespread backing for the proposal in the Finnish parliament, with MPs across party lines voicing support for visa restrictions.

“Personally, I think restrictions should be increased,” said Aki Linden from the ruling Social Democrats, acting PM while Sanna Marin is away. “The matter is at present (with) the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he told AFP.

The high number of existing visas, up to 100,000, makes the issue more complicated, Linden said. Finland’s foreign ministry told AFP “alternatives are currently being examined”. Other Schengen countries that share a border with Russia – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – have already restricted Russian visas.

On Tuesday, Kremlin said Dmitry Peskov and Russia “would react very negatively” to proposed restrictions.

The platform named ‘Finland Travel Pro’ is targeted for international travel trade companies globally and it aims to increase the desire to promote and sell travel to Finland. The users of the platform are international tour operators, wholesalers, travel agencies and online travel agencies.

Full buses
After Russia lifted Covid travel restrictions on July 15, the number of Russian tourists heading to Finland has steadily increased. Finland removed its travel restrictions at the end of June.

Although the numbers are still below pre-Covid levels, there were more than 185,000 border crossings in July – up on the 125,000 seen in June. Finland issued over 10,000 new visas to Russians in July, according to local media reports.

Bus companies in Saint Petersburg report increased demand for trips to Finland. “We supply journeys as soon as each two days and for the previous couple of weeks each time it has been full,” Serguei Ivanov of transport company Balt Car told AFP.

Many will travel on from Finland by plane, circumventing the Russian flight ban. “People want to take advantage of the easier passage,” Ivanov said, expecting the numbers to rise.

Absurd idea
While many Finns feel solidarity with Ukrainians, Russian tourists are an important source of income for Finnish border towns. Many business owners in the Lappeenranta municipality by the border worry about the prospect of Russian tourists disappearing again.

“This is the most absurd idea. What do they gain from isolating the normal Russian citizens?” requested Mohamad Darwich, CEO of the Laplandia Market grocery store, just some minutes from the Russian border. “They are inflicting an enormous downside for the native folks and enterprise.”

Traditionally, folks residing on the border have had shut contact with their neighbors on both facet, however this has modified drastically following the pandemic and the struggle.

Surovtcev has a five-year visa to Finland and visits the nation as much as 10 instances a 12 months, however he fears the deliberate restrictions might put an finish to his travels within the nation. “I will likely be very unhappy and disenchanted. I hope the struggle will finish quickly,” he mentioned.

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