KUALA LUMPUR: Russia is ready to grant a visa-free regime to Malaysian visitors, said Russia’s Deputy Head of Mission to Malaysia, Alexander Zimin, noting that the relevant intergovernmental agreement is being worked out by the two countries.
He said the signing of such an agreement would be an important step towards simplifying access for Malaysian tourists to Russia due to the growing interest of Malaysians in travelling to the country.
“The foreign ministries of both countries are discussing the draft of the intergovernmental agreement on the visa-free regime and we believe that maybe next year, we can sign it at the governmental level,” he said in his welcoming remarks at the Moscow City Tourism Committee Roadshow 2023 here Wednesday.
Also present at the event was Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry secretary-general Datuk Roslan Abdul Rahman.
Zimin pointed out that both countries also agreed to establish a specific Working Group on Tourism during the second session of the Joint Russia-Malaysia Commission on Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation in Kuala Lumpur recently.
Tourism was highlighted as one of the 11 key sectors for bilateral cooperation in the agreed minutes of the joint commission, he said.
“We hope that they can host the first meeting of such a working group on tourism in 2024. This is a sign of mutual interest for cooperation in the tourism sector, as well as proof of the potential the tourism sector has as a driving force for bilateral economic relations and for growth in people-to-people ties,” he said.
Zimin stated that more than 100,000 Russian tourists are expected to visit Malaysia by the end of this year, adding that Russians rank 16th among Malaysia’s foreign visitors.
Meanwhile, Roslan said Malaysia received around 79,000 Russian tourists in 2019, but the number dropped significantly in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2022, he said Malaysia recorded approximately 33,000 tourist arrivals from Russia, while in the first nine months of this year, the number increased to 85,000 people.
“The growing tourism ties between Malaysia and Russia underscore the robust bilateral relations that exists between our two nations. Beyond the economic and political branches, tourism serves as a bridge that connects people, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for our respective cultures,” he said.
The roadshow brings a delegation of tourism companies from Moscow to Malaysia as part of its goal to familiarise local travel agencies with the competitive advantages of the Russian capital in attracting foreign tourists.
Additionally, it aims to establish working contacts and forge new partnerships between them.
In the first half of this year, more than 10.3 million travellers visited the Russian capital to explore its remarkable architecture, rare museum exhibits, delicious food and a huge number of places for family recreation. - Bernama