Flight bookings for arrivals in Russia due to the World Cup are currently 50.5% ahead of this time last year, latest data reveals.
And many Russians are staying at home for the tournament rather than going on foreign holidays as usual.
Outbound bookings from Russia are 12.4% down, according to ForwardKeys, which predicts future travel patterns by analysing 17 million booking transactions a day.
The current upsurge in travel to the World Cup host nation has its peak around the opening matches with only “limited advancement” in bookings after the group stages of the tournament.
However, once the outcome of the group stages become clear, a subsequent surge in bookings is possible for the latter knockout rounds, as fan travel to support their teams.
Of the countries with teams that have qualified for the tournament, those with the greatest uplift in number of visitors to Russia are Brazil, Spain, Argentina, South Korea, Mexico, UK, Germany, Australia, Egypt and Peru.
Those with the greatest increase in number of visitors to Russia from countries that have not qualified are the US, China, Hong Kong, Israel, India, UAE, Paraguay, Canada, Turkey and South Africa.
Deeper analysis of the booking data shows that the average length of stay is 13 nights, but overnight stays fall off to normal levels after the World Cup final.
This suggests that while fans are planning to use the World Cup as an opportunity to visit Russia, their real interest is in football, much more than it is in Russia, according to ForwardKeys
Forward bookings for overnight stays in Russia for the whole FAN ID visa-free entry period are 39.6% ahead of the equivalent period in 2017.
More than 40% of visitors during the World Cup are expected arrive via indirect flights via hubs such as Dubai, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Heathrow, Istanbul, Helsinki, Rome, Munich and Warsaw.
ForwardKeys chief executive Olivier Jager said: “Regardless of whatever happens on the pitch, from a visitor perspective, Russia is already a winner.”
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