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  Wednesday, December 11, 2019
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Britons visit Russia more frequently than Russians visit Britain
Britons visit Russia more frequently than Russians visit Britain, a senior Russian tourism official said on the sidelines of the World Travel Market 2006 underway in the British capital. Natela Shengeliya, deputy head of the Federal Tourism Agency, said the number of tourists traveling to the United Kingdom from Russia declined 3% last year, whereas the number of Britons who visited Russia rose 9%. "The rise in the flow of British tourists to Russia shows that tourists are not after luxury, but after a new tourist offering," Sengeliya said. She said a total of 216,000 Britons visited Russia in 2005, including 122,000 tourists, while 219,000 Russians visited Britain, only 74,000 of whom were tourists. At the tourist exhibit in London, Russia moved to promote its regions, rather than just Moscow and St. Petersburg - which have long been familiar to foreigners - in a bid to attract more clients for the country's tourist industry. While boasting a variety of potential sites on its vast territory, Russia lacks proper infrastructure and services, which has hampered the development of the country's tourism industry. The focus of the Russian exposition this year is the country's northwest - Karelia and the Murmansk Region as ecotourism destinations, and the Solovki Archipelago, located on the White Sea, 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the Arctic Circle, which is visited by thousands of people every year who come for its 15th century monastery. During the Soviet era, the Solovetsky Islands were the site of the first Soviet concentration camps, which housed mostly political prisoners and functioned between 1923 and 1939. The region enjoys the European Union's support under the TACIS program of technical assistance to post-Soviet states.
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