Russia to Subsidize Tourists on Domestic Vacations

The push to boost domestic tourism comes after officials lifted most coronavirus restrictions in June. Moscow will subsidize holidays taken by Russian tourists who vacation at home instead of the Mediterranean, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Wednesday.

Yet Russians are still barred from holidaying abroad due to international travel controls imposed to slow the pandemic.

«We have already provided subsidies in the amount of about 3.5 billion rubles ($49.3 million) to tour operators,» Mishustin told parliament during a report on government work in 2019.

«The government has decided to allocate an additional 15 billion ($211 million) to develop domestic tourism,» which will be used to partially compensate Russians who vacation at home.

Russians will receive between 5,000 ($70) and 15,000 ($211) rubles, depending on the tour, he said.

The Association of Russian Tour Operators said companies already received information about the cashback scheme meant to stimulate tour sales.

It said people would be eligible for the rebate if they buy a tour from a government-compiled list and use the Russian Mir bank card — a would-be competitor of Visa and Mastercard heavily promoted by the government.

The tours would have to be at least five nights long and cost at least 25,000 rubles ($352), it said. The promotion would begin in August and last through Dec. 20.

Russia’s Coronavirus Cases Approach 800K Amid Lifted Lockdown

The last time Russia reported fewer than 6,000 cases was on April 29.

The highest number of new cases were in Moscow, the western Siberian region of Khanty-Mansiysk and Sverdlovsk in the Urals.

Russia’s fatality rate has remained low compared to other badly-hit countries, raising speculation that Moscow could be underreporting figures.

Russian authorities began easing anti-virus measures in June ahead of a massive World War II military parade in Moscow and a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms that now allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036.

Both events were initially postponed due the epidemic.

Moscow plans to open cinemas and theaters on Aug. 1. In the capital, masks are mandatory in stores and on public transport but not in the streets.

Several institutes in Russia are working on a coronavirus vaccine.

Last week the Russian Defense Ministry said it had developed a «safe» vaccine following clinical trials on a group of volunteers.

The trials are ongoing, and the Defense Ministry expects clinical trials to be fully completed in the coming weeks.

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