"In 2017, a total of 178,000 UK tourists visited our country, which is slightly higher than the previous year’s number. However, it is three times the number of [tourists who had visited Russia] in 2002. Despite the political instability, we expect a significant number of fans from the United Kingdom at the 2018 FIFA World Cup," Safonov said in a statement issued by the agency.
The official suggested that the "defamation by western politicians against Russia only increased Europeans’ interest in our country, and provokes their willingness to see it with their own eyes."
The statement followed The Telegraph's publication of its ranking of the 20 cheapest European cities for spring break on Friday. The outlet put Moscow in the sixth place, indicating that the total cost of visiting the Russian capital was 199.64 pounds ($282.60).
The situation resulted in both Russia and the United Kingdom expelling each others' diplomats. Moreover, dozens of Western countries followed suit by expelling Russian diplomatic workers.
The FIFA World Cup will be held in Russia from June 14 to July 15.