Udayavni Special

232 European tourists stuck in Kerala due to COVID-19 fly home


PTI, Apr 1, 2020, 7:43 AM IST

Thiruvananthapuram: A batch of 232 tourists from the European Union, a majority of them from Germany left for Frankfurt by a special Air India aircraft on Tuesday, March 31 after being held up in Kerala due to the coronavirus lockdown.

“The special flight arranged for the home-bound journey of the asymptomatic tourists took off from the International Airport here this morning, after their “hassle-free” stay in the state for over a fortnight,” the state government said.

“We are glad that the foreign tourists have been able to fly back home after their smooth stay in the state. It was not an easy task to bring together the tourists stranded in different locations in 13 districts.

“Great care had been taken to ensure that they did not face any difficulty during their stay,” Kerala Tourism Minister, Kadakampally Surendran, said.

“Some other countries, including UK, have sought the state governments help for facilitating the transportation of the tourists from their countries,” Surendran said.

All the passengers on the special aircraft were asymptomatic and were kept under quarantine for 14 days.

“It was the seamless working together of the Department of Tourism, the Embassy of Germany in India, the Consul General at Bangalore and the Honorary Consul at Thiruvananthapuram that led to the successful repatriation of the tourists,” Kerala Tourism Secretary Rani George said.

The “unstinted support” from Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan and the Tourism Minister greatly helped in facilitating the repatriation of the tourists.

“It is gratifying to know that the tourists are on their way home,” she said.

“Kerala Tourism had provided all support and assistance to the tourists who were not able to return home due to the ban on international flights in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak as a global pandemic,” P Bala Kiran, Tourism Director said.

The German Embassy had come forward to operate charter flights for the repatriation of the German and European Union nationals stranded in India.

All asymptomatic tourists, who have not been in contact with high risk individuals and had completed 14 days in Kerala or had tested negative, were eligible to be repatriated under the programme.

The flight was arranged as part of an agreement between the German Embassy and Air India with required clearances from Ministry of External Affairs and Civil Aviation Ministry.

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