The Mundial will leave Russia with debts

Why the World Cup 2018 causes more fear than hope.
The 2018 World Cup, which is expected not only by Russian officials, expecting to somehow improve the image of Russia in the international arena, but also the tourism industry, may not meet expectations. Fears that the mundial will gather less tourists than even a tournament in South Africa, where about 3 million people came, seem more and more grounded. Meanwhile, even the South African Championship brought more than € 4 billion in losses, and Russia has not yet dealt with the debts of Olympic investors.

Downtown - one of the symbols of the prosperity of South African Johannesburg 1970-1990-ies - eight years ago was a terrible sight. The first floors of the buildings, where before the beginning of the 1990s were the headquarters of mining conglomerates and comfortable hotels, were surrounded by barbed wire to limit access to illegal migrants. My colleague, who recently returned from a trip across South Africa, testifies: now in the financial capital of the republic in the same downtown on the first floors there are no "thorns". The most obvious slums of Johannesburg for the World Cup (World Cup) in 2010 were more or less renewed. Roads, junctions, stadiums in 11 cities were built. But the first country in Africa to host the World Cup, managed to attract tourists only for the time of the mundialya: FIFA estimates that South Africa was visited by 3 million foreigners. This was not enough, and the championship, which the country's authorities hoped for, brought her losses - about € 4 billion.

After the championship, South Africa failed to keep the influx of tourists, which is not growing now: 8-9 million people a year are stable. For comparison: only one Oktoberfest in Bavaria each autumn attracts more than 6 million tourists. By the way, Germany, which hosted the championship in 2006, was able to dramatically increase the flow of tourists. A year before the mundial, according to the German National Committee for Tourism, in general, the country was visited by 10-11 million tourists, and a year after the championship, only about 20 million tourists came to Berlin, and almost 10 million tourists to Munich.

What scenario is Russia waiting for, spending 638 billion rubles on the 2018 World Cup? Three years ago, officials of Rosturizm made bold predictions: 30-40% more tourists would arrive in the country than in 2014 for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. According to the organizing committee of Sochi-2014, about 2 million tickets were sold to the Olympic Park. That is, according to forecasts of Rostourism, Russia during the world championship football will visit 2.6-2.8 million travelers.

But the Cup of Confederations, which precedes the World Cup, was not optimistic in the summer of 2017. The main memory of the fans of the Cup matches is the semi-empty stands. Official statistics recorded at that time, even the fall of the tourist flow. Rosstat data shows that in the second and third quarters of 2017, Russia was visited by 14.6 million foreigners, which is 2.8% less than in the same period in 2016. In general, note in the organizing committee "Russia-2018", matches of the Confederations Cup were attended by 628.3 thousand fans, but how many of them were visitors, it is not known.

My interlocutors from among the travel agents, the absence of the expressed interest in the World Cup 2018 from foreign fans, is explained, among other things, by political factors: due to the established reasons, in the Western press, Russia has an unfriendly image. But it seems that the organizing committee of the mundialya does not care about this situation: in the beginning of December its representatives optimistically stated that they are satisfied with the pace of sales. At that time, a total of 760,000 tickets were purchased, 53% were acquired by foreigners, the rest - by Russians. The Association of Tour Operators of Russia predicts that at the World Cup 2018 in the country will come from 500 thousand to 3 million fans. Experts of the international consulting company Cushman & Wakefield are pessimistic, they do not expect more than 450 thousand foreign fans.

But, even buying tickets for matches, foreigners can avoid additional spending in Russia. Moreover, prices are repulsively high. For example, as calculated by OneTwoTrip, the placement in Kaliningrad in June-July 2018 will cost an average of 9.7 thousand rubles. for spending the night alone with breakfast, this is three and a half times more expensive than in May. The room in the four-star hotel will cost an average of 18.3 thousand rubles, apartments - 14.2 thousand rubles. But the super-profits Kaliningrad hoteliers can not wait: an hour from the city of neighboring Poland to the city.

Fans who choose to visit other cities of the 2018 World Cup will have to be more difficult. Accommodation in Nizhny Novgorod to the dates of the tournament will rise in price 3.2 times: apartments will cost 19 thousand rubles. per day, four-star hotel - 13,4 thousand rubles. In Moscow, the average prices for the period mundialya twice the usual. Because of such a high cost of the city, the 2018 World Cup, even after receiving fans, can lose ordinary tourists indifferent to football at the height of the season, tour operators are afraid.

But, officials reassure, the infrastructure created for the mundial will remain. In Sochi, too, remained all the infrastructure built for the Olympics, which cost the state and investors a record 1.5 trillion rubles. But some Olympic investors went bankrupt, others remained with debts, and the main creditor of Vnesheconombank still does not know how to return loans at least in any adequate time.