The Greek consular services in Russia are moving swiftly to satisfy the high demand in visas, Alternate Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Xydakis said on Wednesday speaking at the Greek-Russian Tourism Forum at the Grand Resort Lagonissi in Eastern Attica.
In regards to recently reported delays in issuing visas for Russians, Mr Xydakis admitted that there were problems but that no travel cancellations to Greece had been made as a result.
“Problems mainly took place during Easter, but were corrected immediately… There were no cancellations of trips from Russia to Greece due to the delays that occurred”, he stressed, adding that any cancellations that did take place were cases of citizens who had problems with their travel documents.
Mr Xydakis informed that the Greek visa application centers (VAC) in St Petersburg and Novorossiysk were now issuing visas within 48 hours. As demand is high in the VAC in Moscow, where the delays were reported, employees have been instructed to consider the cases of citizens departing in the next five to seven days as “priority cases”.
Russia now counts a total of 28 visa centers, including an extra office operating in Moscow. By the end of May, the visa centers in Moscow will be manned by a total of 100 employees.
He added that Russia would soon see four mini visa centers gradually operating in Surgut, Tomsk, Chelyabinsk and Kyoumen. The mini visa centers will be available to collect the travel documents of Russian citizens interested in obtaining a visa for travel to Greece.
“The visas we issue are for multiple entries and valid for up to three years”, Mr Xydakis said, adding that the ministry receives daily updates from all three consulates in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Novorossiysk.
Speaking earlier on a Greek radio station, Mr Xydakis said that Russian tourists have their sights set on Greece this summer, as they are turning away from former favorites Egypt and Turkey. The alternate foreign affairs minister forecasts Russian arrivals to Greece to increase by 70 percent.