ISLAMABAD, APR 11 – A flight from Russia with 212 tourists onboard arrived on Sunday at the Milas-Bodrum Airport in southwestern Turkey, marking the first direct international flight to the city this year.

Iclal Kayaoğlu, head of the airport, said the staff were delighted with the arrival of the first international tourists at the airport as authorities organized a welcome ceremony for the travelers when they landed after a three-and-a-half-hour journey from Vnukovo Airport near Moscow.

A water salute was given to the flight to mark the inaugural journey of the season.

“We’re happy to see Russian tourists here. We hope more Russian tourists come this year. We’re very hopeful about this season” said Kayaoğlu.

Kayaoğlu told Anadolu Agency that officials expect a nearly four-fold increase in Russian tourists in 2021.

The tourism season in Bodrum started earlier despite the global coronavirus pandemic that hit the industry across the world as guidelines related to overseas travels remain uncertain in many countries.

“We’re expecting around 260,000 tourists this year,” said Kayaoğlu, citing the forecast of major Turkish tour operator Anex Tour.

She expects 60 direct flights from Russia alone in April and 5,000 flights from across 38 countries by August.

“That’s a very positive picture for us. Because last year, we started to receive tourists in May or June but this year we’re receiving them in April.

“I can assure that the tourist arrivals in Milas-Bodrum airport will be 50% more than that of last year,” Kayaoğlu added.

She went on to say that though the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 measures continues, officials want to stay optimistic.

Bodrum is a top destination in Turkey for tourists from Russia, Ukraine, Britain, Poland and other European countries.