BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2018/29

Russia's FIFA World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC) reports that the soccer tournament drew nearly 600,000 foreign spectators to the matches and a total of 5 million foreign tourists from June 14 to July 15. Sberbank estimates that foreign tourists spent a total of $1.5 billion during the games, double the amount of the same period last year.

Official figures report that Russia spent about 680 billion rubles ($13 billion) in preparation to host the World Cup, which is estimated to have made it the most expensive World Cup in history. Most of the money went to construction or refurbishing of sports venues and transportation infrastructure (270 and 230 billion rubles, respectively). Financing was largely provided from the federal budget.

Russia's LOC estimates a positive effect to the Russian economy of $870 billion rubles ($17 billion) during 2013–18, with most of the benefits coming from investments in infrastructure and increased tourism. The LOC said that in 2017–18 the tournament added a quarter of a percentage point to GDP growth. Most other estimates put the growth benefit of the games in the range of 0.1-0.2 percentage point this year.

The LOC expects the event to add 150–200 billion rubles a year to the economy over the medium term, assuming full advantage is taken of opportunities created by the new investment. Other estimates are more pessimistic, as e.g. most of the new stadiums are considered unprofitable investments.