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Russia to introduce special resort fees for tourists

Source: TRCW, Kremlin

MOSCOW, Russia 08.26.2016 – The Kremlin plans to levy a special fee on tourists visiting recreational centers and resort facilities in the Russian regions, according to the government’s sources.

Russian President Vladimir Putin endorsed the introduction of such fees at a recent meeting of the Presidium of the State Council, a consultative organ used to formulate key strategic government policies in the country.
The president also suggested the introduction of a star classification system for the Russian resort facilities, similar to the one currently used for rating the hospitality facilities.
The head of state said the introduction of the special resort fees should be done very carefully, so as not to put an unwanted additional financial burden on tourists. “Besides, the fees have to be specially colored” in the sense that the generated cash should be directed exclusively at the development of tourism infrastructure facilities and not for any other purposes, the president added.

The size of such fees, according to the Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, has to be affordable to tourists, and therefore, should be in the RUB 50-100 range. "The money that will be collected from these fees should go strictly to the development of resort centers and be used exclusively for the welfare and benefit of tourists," the minister noted.
According to the Minister for the North Caucasus, Lev Kuznetsov, a "pilot project" to introduce the tourist tax will initially be implemented in four regions, such as Altai, the Krasnodar, Crimea and Caucasian Mineral Waters, after which decision to extrapolate the policy across the whole country..
"We propose to set a limit on the size of the tourist fee, determine the categories of citizens that would be exempted from the fee and develop a special management mechanism, such as a trust fund, for administering the fee collections and use. The fund will be operated in a way similar to the Road Management Fund, which is spent on a closed list of specific goals," Kuznetsov said.
The introduction of the tourist fee as a pilot project in some selected regions will help spotlight the advantages and also rectify the shortcomings of the new policy and this will help decide whether or not to extend the practice to all Russian regions, Kuznetsov said.
But it is the regions themselves that at the end will have to finally decide whether or not to levy these fees on tourists visiting resort facilities on their territories, he added.

By Christopher Ebohon and Martin Ebohon