Tourists walk along Red Square in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow on November 6, 2020.
ALEXANDER NEMENOV | AFP | Getty Images
With Russia’s coronavirus shot Sputnik V sluggishly received among its own citizens, Russia is considering launching travel packages for Covid vaccinations for tourists.
Russian state news agency Tass quoted one of the country’s tourism industry leaders as saying that “vaccination prices” were ready, but that visas and entry requirements for foreign visitors were holding them back.
“The product is ready, but the issues of visa support and legal entry for foreigners who want to get the Russian vaccine have yet to be resolved,” Andrei Ignatyev, president of the Russian Union of Travel Industry (RUTI), told Tass.
The price for a three-week vaccination tour for foreigners will be anywhere from $ 1,500 to $ 2,500, excluding the airline’s expense, Ignatyev added.
Vaccine prices seem to have the blessing of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a speech at the International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in St. Petersburg last week, Putin instructed the government to examine the possibility of offering foreign visitors to Russia chargeable Covid vaccinations.
Russia is keen to revitalize its tourism industry to end the Covid pandemic. Like other countries in the area, Russia introduced entry restrictions for almost all foreigners (with the exception of some workers) last March, which brought tourism to a standstill. Since then, entry restrictions have been relaxed if visitors present negative Covid tests before traveling.
Immunization tourism could prove popular for people in countries struggling to get their own immunization programs off the ground. The Times of India reported last month that a Delhi-based travel agent was offering a 24-day package tour to Russia that included two shots of the Sputnik-V vaccine and a 21-day interval to allow sightseeing between vaccinations.
Slow domestic recording
Russia was the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine – its own Sputnik V – last August, but despite its rapid approval and rollout, domestic uptake of vaccination has been sluggish.
According to data compiled by Our World In Data, only 9% of the adult population are fully vaccinated so far, placing Russia behind Brazil, India, Turkey and Mexico in terms of vaccination progress.
In Europe, more than 23% of adults are now fully vaccinated, according to Our World In Data. Russia will therefore look for potential vaccination tourists in the distance, said Ignatiev.
“The countries of Africa and Latin America have shown great interest in such a tourist product throughout the vaccination campaign in Russia, and RUTI has received such inquiries,” he added, according to Tass.
In late May, Putin announced Russia would not make Covid vaccines compulsory for its citizens and said people should recognize the need to vaccinate for themselves. He also stressed that the vaccine was safe; According to peer-reviewed results from its late-stage clinical study published in February in the medical journal The Lancet, Sputnik V was found to be 91.6% effective at preventing people from developing Covid-19.
“I would like to emphasize again and appeal to all of our citizens: think carefully, remember that the Russian vaccine – practice has already shown that millions (of people) have used it – is currently the most reliable and safest. ” “Said Putin. “In our country, all the conditions for a vaccination are in place.”
A poll published in March by the Russian electoral center Levada found that 62% of people did not want to receive the vaccine, with the greatest reluctance noted among 18-24 year olds.