Legions of Vietnamese fans foot big bills for World Cup vacation in Russia. They are all set to enjoy sightseeing and revel in an electric stadium atmosphere.
In football crazy Vietnam, growing affluence is propelling a prodigious number of people looking to vacation in Russia during the World Cup season.
The last World Cup saw Germany lift the trophy in Brazil. (Photo by Reuters/Ella Wilks-Harper)
They are willing to brave the higher tour prices and stiff ticket prices for World Cup matches, especially the quarters, semis and final, footing bills that could run into five figures in U.S. dollars.
Some travel agents have reported a hike of 20-25 per cent in the number of local customers booking tours to Russia during the World Cup season slated for June 14th-July 15th.
Leading tourism company Vietravel said more than 500 local customers have booked tour packages for watching World Cup games in Russia this year. This is a 300 percent boost over the same period last year.
Meanwhile, tour operators like Fiditour and Hanoitourist have reported that the number of customers booking tours to Russia during the World Cup is 20-25 per cent higher than last year. Fiditour has in fact stopped accepting more bookings for this tour package since late April.
Tourism industry insiders are not surprised by this development, saying the Vietnamese have always been known as passionate fans of soccer, so they are willing to spend big on going to Russia, even if Vietnam has not qualified for the World Cup.
Nguyen Tuan Minh, a Vietnamese undergraduate student in Moscow, has been saving money for the occasion since last year.
“My dad and I have always been huge soccer fans. Mom is not interested in sports but loves traveling. The World Cup will be held during my summer break, so I think this is the perfect time for the whole family to enjoy quality time in Russia.
“We will watch the final together on July 15th. It will be a once in a lifetime experience for me and my family,” Minh said.
Like Minh, many Vietnamese soccer fans are ready to travel to Russia, combining sightseeing with the world’s biggest sporting event, which will host 32 national men soccer teams with globally famous footballers.
The increasing number of wealthy people in Vietnam has only added fuel to the fire, with expensive outbound tours selling like hot cakes.
Besides the cost of VND 70-100 million (USD 3,070 - 4,390) for a 7-12 day tour, each customer also has to pay in the region of USD 2,300 for a ticket to games starting from the quarterfinals stage.
Vietnam’s middle class population is believed to be the fastest growing in Southeast Asia. The so-called "middle and affluent class" earning USD 714 a month or more in Vietnam will double to 33 million people, about a third of the population, between 2014 and 2020, the Nikkei Asian Review has reported, citing Boston Consulting Group.
Market research firm Nielsen estimates that the number of middle class Vietnamese citizens will reach 44 million by 2020 and 95 million by 2030./.