With a plummeting ruble against the dollar and euro, visiting Norway has become less attractive for people on the Russian side of the border. Storskog, the only border-crossing point between the two countries, reports about an 18 percent decline in traffic in November compared to the same month in 2013.
Last month 25,755 persons crossed the border. This is 5874 persons less than in November 2013.
The main thing that attracts people from Murmansk and other towns on the Kola Peninsula to the border town of Kirkenes is shopping. The 10,000 people large municipality has a retail trade comparable to a town of 35,000 because of the well-developed border-crossing shopping.
Also October saw a decline in border-crossings with 5.2 percent less people traveling between the countries compared to the same month in 2013, as BarentsObserver reported.
The statistics could have been a lot worse if it was not for the local border regime introduced two years ago for people living in a 30 kilometer distance from the border. Under the regime, locals in Kirkenes, Nikel and Zapolyarny can visit each other without holding a visa.
In November, 3441 Norwegians and 2289 Russians crossed the border using the border regime permit.
The total numbers of border-crossing so far in 2014 is 294,620, which is 2.7 percent more than in the same period in 2013. “If this trend continues in December, we will come out with approximately the same number of border-crossings as last year,” says Stein Hansen, Head of the immigration control at Storskog. 2013 saw 320,000 crossing of the Norwegian-Russian border.
Before Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the Ukraine conflict and the follwing sanctions by the EU and US and counter-sanctions by Russia, it was expected that the number of border-crossings would reach 400,000 by 2015.