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City news
City Hall mulls safety of foreign tourists
06.07.2004 13:01

City Hall mulls safety of foreign tourists With tourist season in full swing, the city administration on Thursday held a special meeting dedicated to the security of foreigners as travelers' complaints appear to be growing.

City officials were joined by the police, health officials and travel industry representatives to discuss ways to improve St. Petersburg's tainted reputation.

According to city police, crimes against foreigners account for 3 percent to 6 percent of all cases, which means about 500 crimes last year. But alternative sources suggest the real scale of the problem is much larger because many crimes against foreigners are never reported, let alone solved.

Safety issues present a serious concern for consulates operating in St. Petersburg. Mark Woodham, of the British Consulate General, said Thursday at least one incident is reported to his office daily. "There are likely to be many more incidents that do not get reported to us," he said. The consulate is working on preparing a leaflet with recommendations and warnings about danger spots in St. Petersburg, where theft, robbery and attacks on foreigners happen most. "The leaflet would mention particular areas, where tourists should be aware and especially cautious of the risk of incidents happening," he said, listing Gostiny Dvor, Palace Square, St. Isaac's Square and all of Nevsky Prospekt, particularly around hotels, as the most risky locations.

The local police has prepared a list of recommendations for foreign tourists, which they believe should reduce the level of crime. Highlights include a reminder that all cash payments in Russia should be made only in rubles, a warning against using gypsy cabs or prostitutes, exchanging foreign currency anywhere other than at banks, leaving luggage unattended, and keeping wallets and documents in bags - they should be kept in inner pockets. The police recommend that foreigners who are victims of crime contact the duty district officer. They can also call 02 or 278-30-14 to contact the police division that investigates such incidents.

Nevertheless, tourism professionals felt encouraged after Thursday's meeting. Sergei Korneyev, head of the Northwest branch of the Russian Union of Tourism Industry, said the significance of the meeting was that there is a clear intention by everyone involved to confront the problem.

News source: www.sptimes.ru
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