The freeport of Vladivostok will soon allow individual visitors from 18 countries online applications and a “visa upon arrival”. Although only one casino is currently operating in the region, the program, expected to be rolled out in September in time for the third Eastern Economic Forum, will make it easier for some visitors from Asia and the Persian Gulf to visit.
As many as eight casinos have been planned for the area with the next to open expected to be NagaCorp’s $350 million seaside entertainment resorts project in 2019. Two of the planned projects may have been scuttled recently, but no definitive statements have been forthcoming on their fate.
The 18 countries to be invited for 4-day visas with one option for renewal are Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Qatar, China, Japan, India, Singapore, North Korea, Brunei, Mexico, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey. Travel will be restricted to the Primorsky Krai region.
Russia’s warming relations with Iran have resulted in charter flights to the country and travel from Iran has been rising rapidly over the last few years. Yevgeny Ivanov, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry Consular Department recently told the Tasnim News Agency, “Around 80,000 visas were issued for Iranians in the first 10 months of 2016 compared to 40,000 issued throughout 2015,” he added that Russia eventually plans to offer most Iranian citizens visa-free travel, a privilege currently reserved for diplomatic passport holders.
Wealthy visitors from other oil-rich Persian Gulf countries may make up in gaming turnover what they will lack in sheer footfall numbers.
China and Japan could account for most of the new visitors. Chinese tourists traveling in groups of three or more already have access to a relaxed visa program.
Irina Tyurina, a spokesperson for the Russian Tourism Industry Union was recently quoted in the Asia Times as saying, “The e-visa should make life easier especially for business people and those who visit Russia by themselves,” she said.
Visits from China to the region rose 15% in 2016 accounting for nearly 1,300,000 arrivals, eclipsing visits from the other 17 countries combined.
Any influx of visitors is bound to improve performance at the existing Tigre de Cristal and feed the upcoming resorts. In March, Daiwa Securities Group released a report indicating they believe Tigre de Cristal will generate $150 million in revenue this year and could approach $1.3 billion by 2020. As other resorts open the “cluster effect” should take place making the Primorye Integrated Entertainment Zone a magnet for visitors, especially the untapped northern China market.