OREANDA-NEWS The Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation has received confirmation from the Chinese side that it is ready to start accepting Russians under the agreement on visa-free group exchanges, the first groups will be able to go to China next week, said Nikita Kondratiev, director of the Department of Multilateral Economic Cooperation and Special Projects of the Ministry.

"Confirmation was received from the Chinese side that they are ready to start receiving Russian tourists. I am sure that next week Russian groups will also be able to travel to China as part of the group visa-free mechanism," the ministry's press service quoted him as saying.

Kondratiev stressed that in order to arrange a group tour, a potential tourist needs to contact a travel agency that organizes trips to China.

"Such trips will be cheaper by about 20-30% compared to conventional individual bookings, including e-visa. In group trips, there is always an opportunity to choose a variant of tourist programs that will meet the client's request - everything from city tours to beach vacations," the representative of the Ministry of Economic Development explained.

According to the agency, from the Russian side, regular passenger flights on 13 routes are operated by Aeroflot, Aurora, Iraero, S7 and Yakutia airlines. The total frequency is 32 flights per week. On the Chinese side, seven airlines operate regular flights on 10 routes with a total frequency of 45 flights per week. These are Air China, Hainan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines, Tianjin Airlines.

The press service of the Ministry of Economic Development also reported that the first group of Chinese tourists arrived on Thursday from the city of Xi'an to Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport as part of an agreement on group visa-free tourist trips between the countries.

"The first group of 23 tourists from the Chinese city of Xi'an arrived in Russia as part of the group visa-free exchange mechanism, which was launched on August 1, 2023. Tourists will have a busy week-long program in Moscow and St. Petersburg with a visit to the main attractions of the two cities, after which they will return to China. Next week, new groups of tourists from China are expected to arrive, who will go on vacation to different regions of the country," the message says.

The agreement on visa-free group trips between Russia and China, suspended due to the pandemic, resumed on August 1. Organized tourists in a group of five to 50 people can visit a neighboring country without obtaining a visa and stay there for up to 15 days.