Finland’s Consulate General in St Petersburg issued nearly 180,000 Schengen visas in the first quarter of 2011, which was around 35% more than in the same period of 2010. The new Visa Centre, which was opened in February 2011, receives some 4,000 visa applications daily. If the number of visa applications continues to rise at the same pace for the rest of the year, the consulate in St Petersburg alone will issue more than 1 million visas in 2011. Finland issued altogether over 1 million visas in all its consular offices around the world in 2010. The number of Russians visiting Finland is expected to exceed 4 million for the first time in late 2011. Lappeenranta-based research centre TAK estimates that the number of Russians entering Finland through border crossings in Southeastern Finland will reach around 3.5 million in 2011. http://yle.fi/alueet/etela-karjala/2011/04/ennatysmaara_venalaisturisteja_suomeen_kesalla_2501604.htmlFinland expects to receive a record number of Russian tourists in summer 2011. “Russia’s GDP growth was 4% in 2010 and is expected to reach 4.5% in 2011. This can be seen in traffic, tourism, and shopping tours,” Finland’s ambassador to Moscow, Matti Anttonen, says. The number of trips Russians made abroad increased by more than 30% in 2010. The most popular destination was Finland, with 3.3 million visits by Russian tourists. Turkey came in second with around 3 million visits, and Egypt was third with around 2.5 million visits in 2010.