Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov sharply criticized the government on Monday for its failure to waive visas for tourists from Ukraine.
“Not signing the agreement, which was negotiated between the two countries weeks ago, will mean that those Israelis traveling to Uman will continue to pay a high fee for a tourist visa. No less serious, the Israeli economy will lose millions of dollars expected from incoming tourism from the Ukraine that will not happen as a result of the visa obstacle,” said Meseznikov during an address at the 12th World Congress for the Russian-Speaking Media, currently taking place in Tel Aviv.
The minister noted that in recent years, Israel has become a preferred destination for tourists from Russia, especially following the visa requirement waiver. In 2005, 60,000 tourists visited Israel from Russia. By 2009, this number had grown to 420,000, and since the beginning of 2010, Israel has already seen an 88-percent increase from the same period last year.