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The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg is facing logistical issues due to the rise in Chinese tourists © Roman Novitskii/Alamy Stock Photo

Chinese tourists to Russia are having a major impact on the countrys museums as their numbers grow by 20% annually. St Petersburg is expected to see an even bigger rise after the city introduced electronic visas for visitors from a number of countries, including China.

At the St Petersburg Cultural Forum in November, where China was the main guest, culture minister Vladimir Medinsky told the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that complaints about too many Chinese tourists in the citys museums are solvable “growing pains” and a positive consequence of Russias “museum boom”.

According to St Petersburgs governor Aleksandr Beglov, 400,000 Chinese tourists had already visited Russias imperial capital by September this year. Chinas consul general expected that number to rise to 1.3 million by the years end, he told a local newspaper. Moscow reported more than 800,000 Chinese tourists in 2018. For comparison, Paris counted 1.1 million visitors from China in 2017, according to the Paris Region Tourist Board.

The influx has had a dramatic effect on logistics. The Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo near St Petersburg, home to the recreation of the legendary Amber Room, which disappeared during the Second World War, was put on “red alert” due to Chinese tourists, according to deputy culture minister Alla Manilova.

“The ministry is receiving mass complaints against Tsarskoe Selo about a mass collapse with tourists,” she said in late September, according to an Interfax news agency report. “Our tourists arent able to get in because Chinese groups are getting through (…) We have a red danger alert (…) for Russian tourists.”

Interfax also reported that Olga Taratynova, the director of the Tsarskoe Selo State Museum, said the average waiting time for tickets was four hours, and that the museum plans to introduce personal timed tickets that would require passport identification for purchase.

The ministry denied media reports that restrictions would be placed on Chinese tourists, and two days later Manilova told journalists that “tourists from a wide range of countries are welcome by Russian museums, and no restrictive measures are foreseen for them”.

Amber is particularly alluring to Chinese tourists. Russian business news publication RBC reported that amber items were the most popular purchases among Chinese tourists to Russia, accounting for 30% of all their transactions at Russian stores via Chinese payment systems WeChat Pay and Alipay.

Vladislav Kononov, a minRead More – Source