Rus­sia travel plans soar for World Cup

China Daily - - TOP NEWS - By SHI JING in Shang­hai shi­jing@chi­

Chi­nese tourists have shown an in­creased in­ter­est in Rus­sia, the host of the 2018 FIFA World Cup from June 14 to July 15, ac­cord­ing to ma­jor Chi­nese on­line travel agen­cies.

The num­ber of airline tick­ets re­served for ma­jor venues such as Moscow and St. Peters­burg through on­line travel agency Ctrip is up by 50 per­cent year-onyear for the pe­riod, the agency said in a news re­lease on Thurs­day.

Hardly any ho­tel rooms are avail­able around the 12 ma­jor are­nas with less than a month be­fore the world’s top soc­cer tour­na­ment starts, tour op­er­a­tors said.

The Shang­hai-based on­line travel ser­vice Lv­mama said the num­ber of travel pack­ages to Rus­sia from Jan­uary to July this year jumped by 50 per­cent, largely thanks to the World Cup.

There will be at least 1.5 mil­lion over­seas tourists in Rus­sia dur­ing the tour­na­ment, ac­cord­ing to the Fed­eral Agency for Tourism of the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion. They are ex­pected to spend over 140 mil­lion eu­ros ($165 mil­lion) dur­ing the event.

Rus­sia is mak­ing travel eas­ier by ex­empt­ing over­seas tourists from visas as long as they hold a ticket to the

World Cup, Ctrip of­fi­cials said.

Many more Chi­nese also have be­come fa­mil­iar with Rus­sia, which has been a pop­u­lar over­seas travel des­ti­na­tion dur­ing the past two years. The num­ber of trav­el­ers book­ing travel pack­ages there on Lv­mama soared 150 per­cent year-on-year in 2017, com­pany of­fi­cials said.

As usual for the qua­dren­nial event, prices are com­par­a­tively high, and most of the fans able to at­tend are in mid­dle-to-high in­come brack­ets.

A ticket for a match in the group phase is now go­ing for 7,000 yuan ($1,100) while at­tend­ing a fi­nals match is priced at around 60,000 yuan, ac­cord­ing to Ctrip and Bei­jing-based Shankai Sports, the ticket agent for World Cup Rus­sia in China.

Shang­hai fans have placed the most or­ders for World Cup-re­lated travel, Ctrip said, fol­lowed by Bei­jing and Chengdu. Six of the top 10 cities with the largest num­ber of World Cup game at­ten­dees are from sec­ondtier cities, the com­pany said.

The big­gest order the com­pany took for the World Cup was at a brick-and-mor­tar store in Xi­a­men, Fu­jian prov­ince. A group of 10 peo­ple spent 850,000 yuan for a World Cup pack­age.

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