The tourism development ministry recently undertook an educational initiative with the establishment of Russian language courses for tour guides at the University of Rodos. Tourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos recently noted that tourism traffic from Russia to Greece is estimated to increase by 25-30 percent this year and this requires a subsequent increase in Russian-speaking tour guides. The number of Russian tourists on Rodos increases annually by some 80 percent. Last year 244,000 Russian tourists visited Greece compared with 2006 when 199,000 visitors were recorded. Also, charter flights to Greece from several Russian cities have increased with tour operator Mouzenidis Travel launching twice-monthly flights from the Ural Mountains to Thessaloniki.
Passengers from the cities of Orenburg, Ufa and Perm can now travel to Thessaloniki and the tour operator anticipates flights from Samara and Tyumen. Russian tour operator Natalie Tours also launched direct routes from Perm and Ufa to Crete and Rodos last month until September.