Russia's mandatory Covid entry tests may leave Abkhazia without tourists
Russia’s mandatory PCR test may stifle tourism in Abkhazia. They were introduced for all travelers entering Abkhazia as of April 15, but the measure threatens the tourism industry in Abkhazia.
While officially travelers entering Russia – even tourists to Abkhazia for one-day excursions – are required to do the swab, so far tourists continue to enter Abkhazia and leave without abiding by the regulations. However, the Rospotrebnadzor hotline says the PCR test is necessary.
- Georgia lifts mandatory five-day quarantine for residents of Abkhazia
- Abkhazia opens borders to Russian tourists despite coronavirus fears
- Op-Ed: Difficult times ahead for economy of Abkhazia
Abkhaz social media users have met the decision of Rospotrebnadzor ambiguously. Some have asked how residents of Abkhazia with dual citizenship will cross the border, while others ask what will happen to the tourism sector.
Linda Ampar, a tour guide of the Abkhaz travel agency Abazg 999, said that already as of April 15, out of six tourist buses that had planned to enter Abkhazia, only two managed to do this.
“Today I cannot bring tourists to Abkhazia, because when our buses entered the Republic from Russia, border guards on the Russian side began to tell tourists that even after a one-day excursion they would still have to take a PCR test, wait three days in isolation, and otherwise, pay a fine of 15,000 rubles (approx. 200 USD). People ask – who will pay for the PCR? It costs 2,500 ($32), which is more expensive than their tour. In general, we are at a loss,” says Ampar.
At the same time, according to Linda Ampar, when Abkhaz drivers and guides crossed the border in the direction of the Russian Federation, no difficulties arose – they did so with an Abkhaz passport.
According to the guide, this year is very active in the travel industry. The off-season even broke summer records in terms of the number of guests. In addition to the tourism industry, there are others that are affected by this decision.
Blogger Kirill Bazilevsky spoke harshly about the heads of Rospotrebnadzor on his Facebook page and the department’s decisions:
“The impression is that a fusion of idiots and enemy agents has entrenched themselves in this department, whose main task is to ruin the lives of Russians as much as possible. It is absolutely impossible to understand what specific decisions are based on, but it is quite obvious that these people do not even think about how their decisions will be implemented in practice,” writes Bazilevsky.
There are still more questions about the current situation than answers. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia reported that the government is now working to find out how the decisions of Rospotrebnadzor will affect Abkhazia.
Toponyms, terminology, views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of JAMnews or any employees thereof. JAMnews reserves the right to delete comments it considers to be offensive, inflammatory, threatening, or otherwise unacceptable