World Cup boosts Russia travel by 50%

Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow is the largest venue for the 2018 World Cup. Photo Credit: Railway FX/Shutterstock

Travel to Russia during the 2018 World Cup is up 50% compared to this time last year, according to data from flight-analysis firm ForwardKeys.

The soccer tournament will take place in Russia from June 14 to July 15 and as of this week, 2.5 million tickets have been sold, according to the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

The 1994 World Cup in the U.S. had the highest attendance at 3.57 million, and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was second at 3.43 million.

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the 2006 World Cup in Germany were the other two tournaments that drew more than 3 million spectators, with 3.17 million and 3.37 million, respectively.

Even though the U.S. did not qualify for the World Cup this year for the first time since 1986, the U.S. is still the second-biggest source for ticket sales after host country Russia. The U.S. similarly was the second-biggest source for the 2014 World Cup, trailing only host country Brazil.

U.S. flight bookings to Russia for the 2018 World Cup increased 1.8 times from last year, a greater increase than some qualifying countries, like South Korea (1.3 times) and Germany (1.1 times).

Additionally, the U.S. has the largest share of flight traffic growth to Russia during the World Cup, with a 12.4% share, followed by Brazil (6.6%), Spain (5.8%) and Argentina (5.6%).

World Cup ticket holders must obtain a FAN ID, which grants them visa-free entry into Russia during the tournament and up to 10 days before and after the first and last matches.

ForwardKeys noted that many Russians appear to be staying home during the tournament -- outbound bookings from Russia during the World Cup are 12.4% behind where they were last year.

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