Italy will begin accepting Russian tourists this summer as it eases coronavirus restrictions, Russian state media reported Tuesday, citing Rome’s envoy to Moscow.
Italian Ambassador to Moscow Pasquale Terracciano made the promise days after officials in Rome announced reopening dates for the country's schools, restaurants, swimming pools and gyms in response to anti-lockdown protests.
Pasquale told reporters that Italy will “definitely” reopen to Russian tourists this summer, according to the state-run TASS news agency.
“I can’t promise that it will be on June 2, but there is no doubt that the flow of tourists will resume this summer,” the Italian diplomat was quoted as saying.
Italy’s tourism minister previously said that Rome is timing its plan to start the tourist season with Italy’s Republic Day, which is celebrated on June 2, the Association of Tour Operators in Russia (ATOR) reported earlier this month.
It said at least one major Russian tour operator has begun opening bookings, though Italy has not yet resumed issuing visas. It's also unclear if Russia and Italy will resume air travel with one another by the summer.
Recent polling showed Italy as the top country that Russian tourists would like to visit once borders reopen, ahead of Spain and the Baltic nations on Russia’s western border.
Tourism numbers from Russia to Italy dropped sixfold to 216,000 in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to ATOR.
Italy and Russia have some of the world’s highest Covid-19 death and infection counts.
Italy’s anticipated reopening will come on the heels of a major spy scandal that saw two Russian officials expelled this month after an Italian navy captain was caught red-handed selling secret documents. Russia is embroiled in a series of rows with the West that has resulted in sanctions and diplomatic expulsions.