Dark horse teams at the 2018 FIFA World Cup may turn their countries into prime tourist destinations, a travel agency predicted after the number of searches for Iceland, Mexico and Croatia soared on vacation websites in the past weeks.
Data sent by Shanghai-based tourism company Lvmama to the Global Times showed that the searches on the three countries on the company's platform have tripled since the World Cup began on June 14.
Searches for "Iceland" ranked among the top three for the first time on the platform from June 17 to 18 after the Iceland team surprisingly drew with Argentina 1-1 on June 16. The searches soared five times than normal, according to Lvmama.
The keyword "Croatia" was searched seven times more than usual on June 23 and June 24 after its national team won 3-0 over Argentina on Friday. Mexico also attracted attention where it beat defending champion Germany on June 17.
Searches of those countries peaked on the second day after their games, according to Lvmama public relations manager Wang Huabei.
Iceland's tourism department also expects the sports event to bring opportunities to its tourism industry.
Iceland is "stepping on the big stage this summer…we surely have a clear shot on goal to use the attention in a positive way," Bloomberg reported, citing Skapti Orn Olafsson, a spokesman for the Icelandic Travel Industry Association.
Despite wide interest in those countries, the number of people who actually booked travel to those countries has been limited, Lvmama's report said.
"I noticed Iceland after its game with Argentina," a football fan surnamed Bai told the Global Times on Wednesday.
"I'm thinking having my honeymoon there not only because of the World Cup but also because the Game of Thrones TV series, my favorite series, was filmed in Iceland," Bai said.
"Movies and TV series are also important driving forces," said Wang.
How long the interest lasts will "depend on the local travel resources, transportation and visa policies," Wang said.
Newspaper headline: World Cup dark horse nations get tourism boost