KERALA

Flight with Dutch tourists arrives

Dutch tourists being accorded a traditional welcome at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport on Sunday. - Photo: S. Gopakumar

Dutch tourists being accorded a traditional welcome at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport on Sunday. - Photo: S. Gopakumar  

Dutch tourists being accorded a traditional welcome at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport on Sunday. - Photo: S. Gopakumar

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Dec. 7. A leading tour agent from Utrecht in Netherlands, Bos along with his wife, were the first to step out of the arrival lounge about 30 minutes after the Boeing 757, the first chartered flight with Dutch tourists to God's Own Country, touched down at the international airport at 1-20 p.m. today.

Clad in shirts and trousers, Mr and Mrs. Bos who are on their maiden visit to the city, said they were excited to be here. ``It was freezing in Amsterdam when we boarded the flight and we are comfortable with the pleasant climate in God's Own Country. The city is not well known in Netherlands and we learnt about it only a couple of months ago'', they told The Hindu.

The couple are among the 61 leading Dutch tour operators and travel agents brought by the Courtesy Club of TUI, the leading tour operator in Europe, in the flight along with 15 tourists for a one-week familiarisation trip of the State.

``The destination is not popular even among the tour operators and the trip will help us to familiarise the tourism products, the culture and heritage and to market the State among Dutch tourists in the coming months'', Mr. Bos said.

The Boeing 757 of Air Holland with 220 passengers from Netherlands arrived here after a 14-hour flight and a brief stopover at Abu Dhabi for refuelling. The flight is being operated on a `two-point' basis with the operations covering Amsterdam- Thiruvananthapuram-Goa-Amsterdam. After disembarking the 61 tour operators and 15 Dutch tourists here, the aircraft left for Goa.

An optometrist from Eindhoven, south of Holland, Wilma Van Heset, who has come on her maiden visit with her boyfriend Jos Kampinga, a financial executive, said she loved the place at first sight and looked forward to the week-long holiday.

``We read about Kerala and its unique tourism attractions. We were looking for a relaxed holiday and opted for the State as it is a quiet place compared to Goa. We want to learn about the culture and heritage of the State'', she said.

Emerging in groups, the tourists pushed their luggage-laden trolleys ahead to board the luxury coaches parked near the domestic terminal. Fellow tourists, the staff of the local tour operators, were seen lending them a helping hand.

The Dutch tourists were brought by the Netherlands-based TUI and Neckermann. It is Far Pavilion and Thomas Cook which handles the local operations for those who arrived in the chartered flight.

Later, the tourists were taken in luxury coaches to resorts in Kovalam and Chowara, South of Kovalam, where they are put up. A traditional reception was accorded by local tour operators to the Dutch tourists, which included a `panchavadyam' mela. Three girl students of the IHMCT, Kovalam, dressed in the traditional attire garlanded the guests near the parking lot. Many of the tourists were amazed at the welcome offered at the airport and were seen watching the panchavadyam closely.

The chairman of TUI, Frankenhais, who arrived with the group said they were looking for combining a tour package of beach destinations along with the culture and heritage of Kerala for Dutch tourists. ``The climate is really good and the people are very nice. We are planning for year-round operations'', he added.

The tour operators will stay two nights in Kovalam, one night each in Alappuzha, in the backwaters and Kochi before proceeding to Goa.

The Dutch tourists have opted for Sun and Sand tours and optional tours during their stay in the State.

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