The decision is amid growing an increase in Russian visitors utilizing Finland as a gateway to European holiday destinations, as per Finland’s foreign minister. Due to rising dissatisfaction with Russian tourism amid the Ukraine conflict, Finland will limit the number of visas given to Russians to 10% of the existing amount beginning September 1.
“Tourist visas will not stop completely, but their numbers will decrease significantly,” Foreign Minister Pekka Havisto said in Helsinki on Tuesday amid a crowd of Russian visitors bound for Europe.
After Russia abolished pandemic-related border restrictions a month ago, an inflow of Russian visitors began to utilize Finland and its Helsinki-Vantaa airport as a gateway to European holiday destinations, as per Havisto. He stated that tourist visas from neighboring Russia will be restricted by reducing the opening hours for tourist visa applications, as outright nationality restrictions are not conceivable.
“This means that other types of visas – visiting relatives, family contacts, work, studies – will be given preference and more time,” the minister explained.
According to Havisto, Finland now handles over 1,000 Russian visa applications every day. Finland will also examine creating a new humanitarian visa category, which is currently missing in the nation.
“It can make the situation a lot easier for journalists or NGO workers in some circumstances,” Havisto said.
In reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Finland joined a slew of Western nations in closing its airspace to Russian flights, making it harder for Russians to fly to Europe. The foreign minister also stated that Finland and the Baltic states will jointly demand that the EU terminate the visa facilitation deal with Russia. The cost of tourist visas will rise from 35 euros to 80 euros ($35 to $81). Finland aims to discuss the matter at the next European Union (EU) foreign affairs ministers meeting on August 30 in the Czech Republic.
The Nordic country has sought NATO membership in response to political and public support for the alliance following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, but it is Russia’s only EU neighbor that does not impose limits on Russian citizens seeking tourist visas.