St Petersburg approves quickie marriages


St Petersburg: Las Vegas of the North?


Sean Gallup

St Petersburg in the summertime is as close as it gets to urban heaven on earth. I just got back from four days there (stories to come shortly), and the sun was setting around 1am and rising shortly after. Pretty soon, the White Nights will set in. There are theatres and museums on nearly every corner, architecture that makes Rome look positively boring and a sense of history that breathes from its winding streets and canals. It’s not for nothing that it’s called the Venice of the North.

That’s a pretty good sell, right? Apparently, the city’s authorities don’t think it’s enough.

Yesterday, they approved a move to allow 72-hour marriage registration, hoping to boost tourism to the northern city a la Las Vegas. Registering a marriage in Russia, like any bureaucratic process here, is a pain and usually takes at least a month. Now St Petersburg hopes tourists will flock to the city to take advantage of their new offer.

It’s part of a five-year plan (insert Soviet joke here) that also includes more aggressive advertising of the city, tax-free shopping and visa-free air and rail travel for foreigners, AFP reports. It aims to increase the number of tourists to 8.1 million people annually (up from around 5 million today).