TALLINN - A Finnish language course began on Thursday for tourism workers in Estonia's East-Viru County.
A record high number of 43 tourism workers from 13 establishments across the county registered for the language course, which is being organized by the East-Viru County tourism cluster together with the county's vocational education center.
Tourism in East-Viru County faces the challenge of having to replace the Russian market that has disappeared. In 2019, Russian tourists accounted for 19 percent, or around 66,000 people, in accommodation, and for 26 percent of overnight stays.
The main foreign market for Estonian tourism is Finland but Finnish tourists rarely visit East-Viru County -- only 4 percent, or 10,000 people of those accommodated in the region in 2019 were from Finland.
Companies from across the county are taking part in the language courses with those from Narva being particularly active. Instead of the initially planned one group, two groups had to be formed for students coming from various areas of the tourism sector and including administrators, caterers, massage therapists, tour guides and other workers in tourism.
The language course runs from April through May to prepare tourism staff to welcome Finnish visitors in their native language.