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Russia proving a draw for Chinese tourists
Russia is expected to be a popular destination for Chinese tourists this summer. Sporting action, cool weather and its visa-free policy during the World Cup will help the country boost tourism.
With its visa-free policy for foreign audience members and short flight time to China, this year's World Cup looks set to attract a large number of enthusiastic Chinese fans. It is reported that about 100,000 Chinese soccer fans will go to Russia to watch the games and travel around the country during the World Cup period.
Hotel bookings in Moscow have soared more than tenfold compared with the same period last year. The hotels near the soccer stadiums are nearly sold out, and only about 10 percent of hotels in other areas still have empty rooms, according to data from Ctrip, China's largest online travel agency.
The prices of some hotels in Moscow, where the final will be held, have soared by as much as 200 percent compared with their usual prices. St Petersburg, which will host the semi-final, has seen the volume of hotel bookings surge more than five times compared with last year. The average price of a hotel room per night in the two cities is above 1,000 yuan ($156), Ctrip found.
Besides, bookings of flights to major cities holding World Cup games in Russia have soared more than 400 percent compared with last year, and the prices of flights have risen 13 percent. On average, passengers need to spend more than 3,600 yuan on plane tickets, and the prices are likely to stay high until the beginning of September, Ctrip said.
"Driven by the World Cup, trips to some niche places in Russia have also picked up, and thousands of Chinese tourists have shown an interest in traveling there," said Zhang Hao, director of Ctrip's themed tour department.
Chinese soccer fans from Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou in Guangdong province, and Chengdu, Sichuan province, top the list of those who will go to Russia to watch the World Cup. Some other fans have chosen to stay in nearby countries such as Poland and Latvia, and plan to fly to host cities in Russia on the days of the matches, according to Ctrip statistics.
Others plan to watch the matches at hotels with their friends in China. Hotels with large screens and mini bars are of most interest, Ctrip said.
For preliminary matches, the average price of a ticket is about 7,000 yuan, and tickets for the final can cost as much as 60,000 yuan each. Women have shown more enthusiasm than men, accounting for 57 percent of those who purchased tickets for matches, Ctrip said.

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