Bulgaria’s government planned to make it even easier for Russian nationals to receive visas, the country’s ambassador to Moscow Boiko Kotsev said on April 2.
“The visa application process will see no changes, we will continue issuing them. But there could be an easing in that the visas would be issued in two-three days and one would have to queue up for no more than three-four minutes,” Kotsev said, quoted by Russian news agency Interfax.
Bulgaria currently has 23 visa processing centres throughout Russia and is considering opening more such locations, he said. In total, Bulgaria plans to open four new consulates in Russia this year, including one in Yekaterinburg in the first half of the year.
Russia has become an important market for Bulgaria’s tourism industry (and the seaside property market) in recent years, as the strong increase in the number of Russian tourists offset slower growth or decline in other traditional markets.
As a result, Bulgarian authorities have tried to make the visa application process as streamlined as possible to keep the numbers up. The possible impact on the tourism industry is one of the key reasons cited in various quarters for Bulgaria’s reluctance to back more stringent economic sanctions on Russia as punishment for the annexation of Crimea.