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Friday, 01 June, 2018, 16 : 00 PM [IST]

Netherlands is well-poised to regain hub status for Indian travellers in Europe: Ambassador to India

Delay in visa processing to be sorted out soon
Alphonsus Stoelinga, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to India, has said that his country is all set to regain its position as a hub for travel, trade and education in Europe for India because of multiple reasons, including improving air connectivity. The Ambassador said that there has been tremendous growth in passenger traffic between India and the Netherlands since the joint venture partnership between Air France KLM and Jet Airways came into being in 2016. With this, one can travel from any point in India to any city in Europe through Schiphol airport on a Jet Airways ticket, he said.

The Ambassador said that there has been over 30% increase in visa application since this partnership has come into effect. Compared to 32,000 visas issued in 2014, last year the Consulate processed over 1 lakh visas here, he added. Jet Airways operates flights from Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru to Schiphol.KLM Dutch also operates direct flight to Mumbai.

Other than the improvement in direct connectivity, Ambassador Stoelinga also cited other favourable factors including Brexit, post-election scenario in the US, etc. which is working in Holland’s favour as a preferred hub destination for Indians in Europe. He said that the number of Indian businesses setting up offices in Amsterdam and other cities in Netherlands has more than doubled since the Brexit crisis erupted. Similarly, there been over 30% growth in student traffic to Holland education centres from India since the US elections.“The quality education in Netherlands is quite good. You can have 95% of the Cambridge quality at 50% of the cost. Cost of living is one-third,” he said.

When asked about the reported long delays in visa processing, Ambassador Stoelinga said that they are abreast with the issue and promised that “the problem will ease soon”. He said that extra staff has been deployed from the VFS office at the Embassy to cut down on the delays in the light of the ensuing holiday season rush.

Talking about the country and its offerings, Ambassador Stoelinga said that Netherlands is a small country with so much to offer in terms of history, heritage, art and museums, landscaping, etc. Because the country is highly dependent on trade with the world, he said that it is more cosmopolitan and open to visitors.

Spelling out the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions (NBTC) strategy for the Indian market, SanJeet, its India Representative said that their focus will be on luxury travel market from India because of the growing interest among hi-end luxury travellers for Art, paintings and also Diamond.  He said that constrains of air capacity is a major limiting factor from doing mass market promotions of the destination in India. According to him, the marketing and promotional strategies will be more digital and will be worked out in consultations with other partners like Schiphol Airport, Jet Airways, and KLM.  For trade engagement, NBTC will organise a 3-city road show in August which will cover cities which are currently served by the airline partners.

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