Open Jaw: Red tape and tourism
Where readers write back
Friday 23 March 2012
Tourists the world over are a constant menace to authoritarian governments. In 1972 the Soviet Union was turning its back on the more liberal climate established by Nikita Khrushchev after the death of Stalin. The expanding dissident movement there kept in touch with the outside world by using willing passengers on the new Thomson Holidays package weekends. At a time when it was possible to censor every letter and every phone call, these holidays provided a secure and fast means of getting material to exile communities and to concerned human rights groups.
The UK has one of the most expensive, time-consuming and humiliating visa processes in the world and one that is clearly not fit for purpose.
"Comfortably Numb 2"
One thing we could easily do is introduce a cheap and easy British extension to a Schengen visa for lower-risk nationals with onward tickets.
In the specific case of Russia, it's worth noting that there isn't strict visa reciprocity with Russia. Russian visas last for 30 days and need to be registered in every town. British visas last six months and require no registration after entry.
We spent a week in St Petersburg – a fabulous city worth visiting for the Hermitage alone. Wouldn't be difficult to attract tourists, mostly with plenty of money to spend. But it took us an afternoon to fill in the visa application forms.
Grand Canyon in winter
My family and I drove the same route as you did on 14 and 15 March. The weather was beautiful – temperatures in the 70s. I was amazed how fast the weather changed after we left.
Eating out in Brussels
Eat a typical Belgian sandwich at the Suisse, filled with "filet américain" (beef tartare, Belgian style).
48 hours in Dublin
Dublin is about as Irish as Brick Lane is East End. For the sights, the craic, the people who will shake your hand, go to Galway, Kerry, Donegal – even Limerick.
"Green light idea"
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
- 5 The Queen’s speech 2014: Recap and Twitter reaction to Game of Thrones reference
Travelling by train, boat and plane in 2015: what's in store from ferries to winter sports services
TripAdvisor reveals the top places to visit in 2015
Chic new hotels in 2015: From Britain's first football-themed property to a Facebook millionaire's debut desert resort
Yakutsk: Journey to the coldest city on earth
Top 10 travel destinations for 2015: From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...
£240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...
£27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...