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No China or US in World Cup – but their ‘fans’ are booking out Moscow

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Football fans and official delegations have booked over 40,000 hotel rooms in Moscow for the duration of next year’s 2018 FIFA World Cup – and, according to Russian officials, the biggest buyers are from two nations whose teams won’t even be appearing in the tournament: China and the United States, reported Asia Times (Thailand).

Bookings have gathered pace since September, when FIFA started selling tickets for matches. Already, requests for tickets have reached almost 3.5 million, with a new round of ticket sales scheduled to start on Thursday. The 40,000 figure for hotel rooms means Moscow is already more than 60% fully booked.

Citing data from FIFA, football’s governing body, Alexander Kostin of BonusCodeBets.co.uk, a company which effectively operates as a ratings agency for gambling firms, said: “So far 3,496,204 tickets have been requested. International demand accounts for 30%. German, Brazilian, Argentinian and Chinese fans all rank in the top 10 [by nation]. Around 300,000 tickets have been requested for the Final.”

Nikolai Guliaev, who is Head of Russia’s Department for Sports and Tourism, said: “The majority of football fans prefer to book cheaper hotels. There are hardly any unreserved cheap mini-hotels and hostels left in the center of the capital for the duration of FIFA 2018. Many such rooms have also been pre-paid.”

Hotel rooms have been reserved by fans from a variety of FIFA 2018 participating countries, including England and Brazil, Guliaev said. However, China so far accounts for the highest proportion of bookings by nation, followed by the United States.

“The percentile proportions of foreign football fans that have booked rooms in Moscow hotels may change significantly before the end of this year,” Guliaev added. “This will happen following the final draw of the participating countries on December 1, 2017, which will determine the cities that the teams will be playing in. Nevertheless, we are still expecting crowded hotels in Moscow because the majority of fans choose Moscow as their main accommodation city – they will visit other cities only for specific matches.”

The demand for hotel rooms has led to many hotels raising their prices to the maximum limits permitted. Guliaev said his Department had started monitoring hotel websites and online booking systems to stop overcharging.

For those unable to secure accommodation in the city center, he added, the greater Moscow area offers plenty of alternatives, with nearby locations such as Krasnogorsk, Odintsovo, Khimki, Lobna and Zvenigorod all within close proximity. The Department is also negotiating with shipping companies to adapt river boats as floating hotels, he said.

Ahead of the World Cup, over 1,100 hotels in Moscow alone, totaling 67,700 rooms, have been subjected to classification. Thirty-one hotels have attained five-star status, and 89 a four-star rating. There are 224 three-star hotels, 117 two-star establishments, and 55 which have been assigned only one star. A further 667 hotels exist in the “zero-star” category.

The 2018 World Cup will take place between June 14 and July 15 across 11 Russian cities: Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Kazan, Nizhniy Novgorod, Samara, Volgograd, Rostov-On-Don, Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg and Saransk. A total of 12 games are planned for the capital.

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