For the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia (June 4 – July 15), Forwardkeys is reporting a 50.5% surge in visitors, with an uptick observed even from non-qualifying countries such as Hong Kong.
Non-qualifying countries showing the largest uplift are the US, China, Hong Kong, Israel, India, UAE, Paraguay, Canada, Turkey and South Africa.
Of the countries that have qualified, those with the greatest increase in visitors to Russia are, in order, Brazil, Spain, Argentina, South Korea, Mexico, UK, Germany, Australia, Egypt and Peru.
In addition, with many Russians staying home for the tournament instead of going ahead with their usual holiday plans, outbound bookings from Russia are 12.4% behind the same period last year.
A notable feature of the booking profile is that the current upsurge peaks around the opening matches and, as of now, there is a limited advancement in bookings after the group stages of the tournament, according to Forwardkeys’ analysis.
However, once the outcome of the group stages become clear, Forwardkeys postulates it is possible for a subsequent surge in bookings for the later knockout rounds.
While the FIFA World Cup is bringing more visitors to Russia, Forwardkeys says further analysis of data suggests that many of these visitors’ “real interest is in football, much more than it is in Russia”. World Cup ticket holders being required to obtain a Fan ID, which grants them visa-free entry into Russia from June 4 to July 15, for stays until July 25, presumably allowing pass holders to remain in the country after the final on July 15. Yet, Forwardkeys says data shows that bookings for overnight stays fall sharply to normal levels after the final.
Forwardkeys further observed that major hub airports are other beneficiaries of the mini tourism boom to Russia, with over 40 per cent of visitors during the World Cup arriving via indirect flights.
Hub airports with the greatest number of passengers to Russia is Dubai, with forward bookings up 202%. This is followed in order by Paris, whose Russia (+164%), Frankfurt (+49%), Amsterdam (92%) London Heathrow (+236%) ahead, Istanbul (+148%), Helsinki (+129%), Rome (+325%), Munich (+60%) and Warsaw (+71%).