Some 100,000 Chinese soccer fans plan to visit Russia for the 2018 World Cup and women are showing greater enthusiasm than men, Chinese travel agents told the Global Times on Tuesday.
The Chinese president's special envoy and vice premier Sun Chunlan will travel to Russia from June 12 to 15 to attend the opening ceremony of the 21st FIFA World Cup, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday.
About 100,000 Chinese will travel to Russia, Wang Ying, public relations manager of Ctrip, China's leading online travel agency, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
From January to July, the number of bookings for Russian travel services on online travel platform lvmama.com increased 50 percent compared with the same period last year, Wang Huabei, public relation manager of the platform, told the Global Times.
It's unexpected to see so many Chinese fans, Yuri Tsurkan, chairman of the Russian-Chinese Tourism Promotion Association's council told the Russian news agency Tass.
After all, China had not qualified for the tournament, Tsurkan said.
According to Ctrip, a fan from South China's Fujian Province, paid 850,000 yuan ($132,700) to go watch one game.
Some fans chose to live in neighboring countries like Poland and Latvia and take planes back and forth from Russia.
Women account for 57 percent of World Cup ticket buyers on their platform, according to Ctrip.
Compared to the previous tournaments in Brazil and South Africa, the 2018 Russia World Cup has a closer geographical appeal to Chinese soccer fans.
"Unlike previous World Cup tournaments held in southern hemisphere countries, Russia is close to China and so the price is relatively cheap," Xiao Ba, a Chinese soccer fan, told the Global Times.
Chinese companies Vivo, Hisense Yadea and Dalian Wanda have been buying up and offering ticket packages, news site thepaper.cn reported.
Even Wolf Zabivaka, the official mascot of the World Cup, was made in China.