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World Cup 2018 poised to attract record number of Chilean tourists

Despite the considerable distance between Chile and Russia, it appears that the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2018 is expected to attract a vast number of football fans and tourists from the South American country.

Representatives of the Mundo Tour, a Chilean FIFA authorized travel agency, told Sputnik Mundo that the sales of tours to the World Cup 2018 in Russia may even rival the number of sales for the World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

"According to our estimates, the demand for Russia will be greater than for South Africa (host of the World Cup 2010). We see that people use this opportunity to learn more about Russia and Europe, unlike before when they usually purchased the more standard ‘see the games and go’ kind of tours. Many people intend to stay for several days," Maria Jose Cabrera, head of the Mundo Tour planning and control department, said.

This year, the Chilean national football team, La Roja, will take part in the Confederations Cup tournament, which is also being held in Russia, for the first time ever.

This development prompted the travel agency, which represents Chile at FIFA events for the last 20 years, to offer the so called ‘double package’ – tours to the Confederations Cup 2017 and the World Cup 2018 in one set; and the considerable demand for this particular kind of tours became a pleasant surprise for the company.

"We have about 100 people heading to the Confederations Cup. Most of them will only stay for the first three games, but some will stick all the way until the finals," Cabrera said.

She also remarked that it would be unfair to compare the demand for the tours to Russia and to the World Cup 2014 in Brazil due to the latter country’s geographic proximity to Chile.

Cabrera further explained that the travelling distance involved is usually a more important factor than the price, as people require more time and often need to take a leave at work to undertake such trip.

"Football always attracts a lot of emotions so people usually don’t focus on the money. People always have enough money to travel to a football event, we’ve been seeing this for 20 years," she said.

However, according to Cabrera, the Chilean football fans heading to Russia in 2018 may be interested in more than just the championship.

"Many people intend to stay there for a few days, just like during the tournament in South Africa. The country is quite interesting and people will likely use this opportunity to stay there for a while and look around," she added.

Russia will host its first ever FIFA World Cup tournament 2018 on June 14- July 14 next year. The matches will be held in several major cities, including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Sochi, Rostov-on-Don and others.

Sputnik / PNA