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Hosting the World Cup in 2018 brought to Russia’s realization that maybe having a flood of tourists is not so bad after all, so the Russian government is opening its doors with an easier visa procedure.

Last June, the news got out that Russia is working to simplify its uptight, fee-heavy entry process and replace it with e-visas for tourism, business, and humanitarian purposes. The new procedures were planned to start in January 2021, however, these procedures were planned for only certain countries. Surprisingly, the countries don’t include the US, Canada, and the UK. Oh, how the tables have turned.

For Russia, the 2018 World Cup proved to be a huge overwhelming success, showing the whole world the fun side of Russia. Almost half a million more people visited the country compared to the previous year, for a total of 4.2 million visitors in 2018, compared to only 3.8 million for 2017. During the event, the country had a policy of an easier e-visa for whoever had a fan ID and a ticket, and they’re planning to implement a similar, fairly easier process for the new online visa service.

The whole goal of this policy is repositioning (read: rebrand) Russia in travelers' minds. It’s more than getting tourism revenue – it’s about people seeing Russia in a whole new light

Source: Lonely Planet.