Bookings for air travel to Russia during the football World Cup this summer are currently more than double the same period last year as the FIFA tournament returns to Europe for the first time since Germany 2006.
The latest figures are from ForwardKeys which predicts future travel patterns by analysing 17 million booking transactions a day.
Russia is hosting the 32-team competition for the first time – it runs from June 14 to July 15. The Forwardkeys’ findings show the biggest peak in arrivals comes as the tournament opens, and figures remain high for the rest of June – 118.3% ahead of last year – as the competition moves to its climax.
Travellers are coming from across the world, and bookings for arrival during the World Cup period from those countries that have qualified for the competition show enormous increases compared to the equivalent position at the same time last year. Mexico shows the greatest uplift – ahead by a factor of 19 on visitors going to Russia last year. Brazil (x15), Argentina (x10), and Poland (x7), who have also qualified, all show dramatic increases in bookings, as of the end of February.
The one exception among footballing nations is Italy. For the first time since 1958, the four-time champions will not appear at the World Cup, having failed to qualify. As a result, Italian bookings for Russia are lagging by as much as half on the previous year.
ForwardKeys CEO and co-founder, Olivier Jager, said: “Once again the power of sport is going to give a massive boost to tourism. The Russians will obviously be looking forward to the international fans’ spending power. It’s just a shame that many Italians won’t be there to enjoy the drama.”