Will Soccer Kick Up Hunting Tourism in Russia?

Few “sports” have less in common than soccer and hunting. Sitting on a coach or a stadium chair with a beer and a flag is something not usually associated with stalking a giant bear or moose in the wilds of Kamchatka. However, when it comes to FIFA World Cup 2018, we at BookYourHunt.com see a possible connection.

Among people who find and book hunts on our online marketplace, Russia is the third most popular destination after the USA and Canada, surpassing even Africa. In fact, in the first half of the year 2018 Russian hunt sales doubled as compared to the first half of 2017, and it is easy to see why.

Russia is a vast country that still features large areas of unspoiled wilderness has always been a magnet for adventure-seeking hunters. No mountain game slam can now be complete without Russia’s five species of snow sheep. The great moose and bear of Kamchatka and the Pacific Coast rival the trophies from Alaska and the Yukon. Some animals, like Himalayan bear, can be legally bagged only in Russia. Other hunts, like stalking capercaillie, the world’s biggest grouse, in spring at a lek, are theoretically possible elsewhere, but in Russia are more affordable and easier to organize. American elk hunters who haven’t been lucky with the tag draw may want to diversify their experience with Manchurian wapiti or the maral stag. The list could continue.

Kamchatka moose running through deepp snow
The giant Kamchatka moose is one of the main quarries for international hunters in Russia, but far from the only one.

And if that wasn’t enough, weak ruble makes prices for these hunts unbelievably attractive. Especially if you book your hunt directly from an outfitter in Russia. Economic problems reduce domestic demand for guided hunts, encouraging Russian outfitters and guides to look for clients abroad. It’s these outfitters who typically offer the best deals on the market. If you can find them, that is – without previous experience in serving international customers outfitters and guides often find it a problem to frame their offer in the right way and to put it before the eyes of the client.

Admittedly, many hunters are wary about the prospect of going to God knows where and dealing with God knows who. This is precisely where BookYourHunt.com comes in. Our online marketplace doesn’t only select trusted outfitters – we help them create their pages and fill them with hunts offers in English, and position the hunts correctly for international audience. The hunters can find the hunts and book them directly from the outfitters, with the best price guarantee, and enjoy 24/7 support from BookYourHunt’s competent English-speaking staff. That’s a win-win situation that more and more hunters and outfitters use to their advantage.

Two factors that harnessed the interest in Russian hunts have been, first, somewhat clumsy and problematic tourist service, and second, the fact that many people in the West are habitually suspicious of Russia. No surprise here, with the aftereffects of the Cold War that are still looming somewhere in the background. But the 2018 FIFA World Cup has done a lot to overcome both problems.

The biggest event in world’s most popular spectator sport, soccer, has been a great boost to Russia’s infrastructure, especially transport and accommodation. All across the country, people directly and indirectly related to the tourism industry (from hotel receptionists to police officers) have gained positive experience in dealing with international tourists. Granted, most FIFA World Cup host cities are remote from the traditional hunting destinations in Russia. However, most transfers go through Moscow and St. Petersburg, and these hubs received an upgrade, too. New hotels, airports, aircraft and trains need new tourists to fill them up, so hoteliers and carriers are likely to begin attracting consumers with discounts. In any case, Russia has never been more tourist-friendly before.

A capercailzie and a black grouse
Picture by Ron Spomer. Ron, who hunted Russia in spring 2017, was very positively impressed by the country and its people.

But even more important was the experience of the visitors. Over two million soccer fans from all over the world, including the USA and Canada, came to Russia for the FIFA World Cup according to official sources. What they saw was a country that is, of course, far from perfection, but during the World Cup was unbelievably efficient and safe. And the Russian people, hospitable at any time, exceeded themselves in warm-hearted reception of the tourists. Tales of positive Russian experience are told by individuals, and backed up by reports in professional sports media. It can’t fail to make millions of people worldwide open their minds and hearts to a prospect of a visit to Russia.

This is why we expect that the FIFA 2018 World Cup will boost the demand for Russian hunts even further.

Only time will tell if this expectation proves correct or not. Hunters who will dare to take the plunge, however, are likely to discover the country as high on hospitality and everything for hunters as it was for soccer fans. After all, Ernest Hemingway was spot on when he said “all the countries are the same country, and all hunters the same people.”

If you’re considering a hunt in Russia, however, you’d better hurry up with your choice. If the prediction is to come true, the 189 hunting trips from 35 outfitters in Russia that are available on BookYourHunt.com now will be disappearing with the speed of a soccer ball kicked by Cristiano Ronaldo. Don’t forget that with the need to obtain visas and firearms import permits, all Russian hunts should be booked at least three months in advance – better make it six! Find your Russian adventure now.

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