FIFA 2018, one of the biggest global events of 2018 is fast approaching and it will be held in Russia from June 14 to July 15. Russia has visitors from all over the world, and this year, more Indians are visiting the country than they have in the last few years.
It is this time of the year when most of the Indians plan their summer vacation with friends or family. And, Indian football fans are jumping on the FIFA bandwagon to make the most of their holidays. Studies show that the itinerary has been planned in a way that the visitors can witness the event, and make a multi-city travel as well.
MakeMyTrip, the leading Indian online travel company has seen a surge in bookings for Russia this year. “We have witnessed a growth of over 400 pc for bookings in the time period between June-July 2018 over last year. This uptick in booking is expected to grow further as we get closer to the event dates. The Russia FAN ID visa has furthermore added ease in visa formalities for all the visitors during the world cup period. Travellers just require a match ticket and registration on the site for the visa and it is couriered at the doorstep,” said the MakeMyTrip report.
A few destinations in Russia that have been most frequently booked by Indians this year, listed by MakeMyTrip are:
- Sochi: This city is located on the Black Sea, popularly known as a summer beach resort. It was the host of the 2014 winter Olympics. Its mountainous coastline, endless shingle beaches, warm sunny days and bustling nightlife is what attracts the visitors. The matches held here will take place in the Fisht stadium.
- Volgograd: Formerly Stalingrad, this city is located in southwest Russia, on the Western bank of Volga River. This city had witnessed the bloodiest battles or World War II and is famous for the same. The matches held here will take place in Volgograd Arena.
- Saransk: The capital city of Republic of Mordovia, Russia is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities of the country, making it an important tourist attraction. The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia theme park in Saransk is to open on the main city square. The matches held here will take place in Mordovia Arena.
- Moscow: Moscow is one of the most visited cities in Russia. It is located on the Moskva River in western Russia, and is the cosmopolitan capital. The main attraction here is ancient buildings and monuments with edgy galleries, boutiques and cafes, a great place for all the history buffs. The matches held here will take place in Otkritie Arena Stadium and Luzhniki Stadium.
- Petersburg: The second largest city of Russia, after Moscow is located on the Baltic Sea. It has some of the most beautiful buildings, including the famous State Hermitage Museum, which is known for its unparalleled collection of art masterpieces. The matches held here will take place in Saint Petersburg Stadium.
- Rostov-on-Don: A city in southern Russia. It is famous for its vast collection of indigenous ancient fine arts. The matches held here will take place in Rostov Arena.
- Kazan: A city in southwest Russia, located on the banks of Volga and Kazanka rivers. It hosts multiple sports events and matches, hence known as the sports capital of Russia. The matches held here will take place in the Kazan Arena Stadium.
Commenting on the football fever, Sanjeev Mehra, Managing Director of Aaryan Leisure and Holidays, a leading outbound tour operator from Kolkata said, “There is just one week to go until the kick-off of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia opening match at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow. World Cup organisers say that the competition will draw more than one million fans and Russia has spent a whopping USD 13 billion on its infrastructure. The spectacular Saint Petersburg Stadium is among the most expensive sporting arenas ever built, estimated to cost almost EUR 1 billion. We came to know that the airports in six cities have new terminals, 21 new hotels have been built in host cities, in May, adding to that, 14 hospitals have been re-equipped for the tournament.”
Mehra added, “In Moscow, things are starting to balance out because there is an enormous choice of accommodation, but in cities which were not as popular, like Saransk and Nizhny Novgorod, prices are shooting up. The goal was also to present “ecstatic and attractive” image and give visitors the best possible experience so they would go home and recommend Russia as a tourist destination.”
Arunoday Singh, a corporate manager from New Delhi, and an ardent football fan is all set to visit Russia and see as many matches as he can. “Russia is a beautiful country and now ready to welcome football fans from all over the world during FIFA 2018. I am looking forward to see the matches. It will be also interesting to see the flow of many more fellow Indians cheering for their favourite players from the gallery,” he said.
Indians’ love for football is beyond doubt and more Indians are visiting world cup cities to enjoy the game. Incentive tours are being organised to see the match as clubbed with sightseeing. This year FIFA World Cup and Russia is getting good response from various cities of India.
“I have never seen a country that has done so much to welcome the fans. Russian government has introduced FAN ID for the first time in the history of World Cup that is a document that all the spectators of 2018 FIFA World Cup matches must have to get access to stadiums. The FAN ID provides visa-free entry to Russia for foreign citizens that have purchased 2018 FIFA World Cup match tickets. Such fans will be able to enter and remain in the country during the period that starts 10 days before the first match and ends 10 days after the last match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. It also entitles holders to use certain free transport services, including inter-city trains and public transport in the host cities upon presentation of a FAN ID card and a 2018 FIFA World Cup match ticket. With Russia’s eye-catching stadiums primed and ready, the organisers will be hoping the football itself is just as spectacular,” informed Mehra.