InterContinental Hotels Group - which accommodated the victorious Manchester United team in its Crowne Plaza Moscow World Trade Centre - is calling on the Russian authorities to relax entry visa restrictions after its highly successful handling of the Uefa Champions League final.“The Russian authorities have done a sterling job fast-tracking its complex visa process to ensure the 50,000 British soccer fans who went to Moscow could get there at short notice. We applaud their actions,” said Robin Wicks, IHG’s Chief Operating Officer Continental Europe.
“This goes to show it can be done. But Russia’s current visa process is simply far too slow and is seriously hampering the emerging tourist trade. By adopting similar measures to those used for the Manchester United and Chelsea fans, the volume of tourism traffic could dramatically rise.”
Manchester United took 150 rooms at IHG’s Crowne Plaza Moscow World Trade Centre, one of six hotels IHG has open in the emerging Russian market. It also has a further ten hotels signed and in its development pipeline.
“The passenger flow at Moscow international airports is booming; up from 19 million in 2002 to more than 33 million in 2006 - and planned airport expansion will increase capacity to more than 85 million by 2012. Russia is gearing up for a surge in tourism. Lifting the visa restrictions and embracing low-cost airlines will spark that boom. It’s the perfect time to do it,” said Wicks.