Mohamed Affan hadn’t really planned on going to Brazil for the FIFA World Cup this year.
But in January, when he found that a friend had an extra ticket, he jumped at the chance. “I’ve always wanted to go for a football world cup tournament. And this will give me the chance to travel in South America too,” said the 26-year-old from Chennai.
With less than 40 days to go for what is touted as the world’s largest single-event sporting competition, the excitement is building, and football fans from the city are gearing up for the matches, shopping and a whole lot of sightseeing.
Mr. Affan, who is travelling with two other friends, is planning to watch three matches and stay for three weeks. “I’m not as much of a football fan as many other people. For me, it’s the travel that’s exciting,” he said.
Fans like Vidyuth Rajgopal, a city-based professional, planned their trips around a year ago, when ticket sales first began, and have carefully-charted itineraries revolving around the matches and the cities they will be played in. “I am going for two weeks towards the end of June,” he said.
Travellers are also planning a host of other activities while in South America. “I’ve planned a trek in the Amazon rainforest as well as a week’s trip to Argentina,” said Mr. Affan, who also wants to travel across Brazil. Trying out local food is another experience he is looking forward to.
Mr. Rajgopal is planning to visit the famous Iguazu Falls near the Brazil-Argentina border.
Travel agencies in the city, that have seen an increase in the number of inquiries to Brazil over the last few months, are also offering packages. Thomas Cook, for instance, saw booking commence from June 2013 onwards and had a 12 per cent rise in queries, said Shibani Phadkar, senior vice-president (products & operations) at the firm.
“We have had interest from the corporate world, young professionals, groups of friends and families too. We have developed itineraries that include a range of sight-seeing options across Brazil — its beaches, colonial towns and nightlife,” she said.
At MakeMyTrip, too, inquiries have gone up, a representative said.
For fans like Rohit Rajkumar, the experience is about meeting people from around the world and soaking in the diverse cultures. “We just want to wear our football jerseys and walk about in the streets. It’s going to be more like a huge festival than anything else,” he said.