High-school students Sara Timonen and Helmi Toropainen are surprised by how international their hometown is from the tourism perspective.
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Afrikaans, Khmer, Oromo, Kikongo, Latvian, Nepali, Urdu, Gujarati, Mongolian. Almost a hundred languages are spoken in Kouvola, some of which are very exotic.
During theme week, Helmi Toropainen and Sara Timonen, first year students at Kouvola Co-eductional Lyseo Upper Secondary School, studied tourism in Kouvola, and realized that they lived in a town populated by people of many different nationalities.
“We also have many international restaurants and the food cultures of different continents are well represented,” says Toropainen.
Kouvola also hosts Nepalese, Thai, Japanese, Mexican, North-American and Indian cuisine. A few bistros provide a French flavour, and pizzerias offer a taste of Italy.
“Veganism is a growing trend,” says Toropainen. “For example, Mimosan Aito and Amarillo all have vegan meals. As for cafes, Picnic, Coffee House, Papulaari, and Naapantuura are vegan friendly.”
Timonen and Toropainen are members of Kouvolan tyttöpartio, the local girl scouts’ association. If they had foreign visitors, they would take them to a KPL (Kouvola’s Finnish baseball team) home game and on a hike to Repovesi.
“We’d take them on our own route, not the marked ‘Fox trail’. The Olhavanvuori hill would also be on the list of places to visit. In addition to hiking, canoeing around the National Park is definitely worth trying,” Timonen says.
Repovesi’s outdoor trails are marked in several languages for foreign hikers.
“Tourist brochures and maps are available in English, Russian and German at, for example, the railway station and the Veturi shopping centre.”
Timonen and Toropainen feel that Kouvola’s wide-ranging ethnic services could be highlighted more when marketing the city’s tourism.
“Kouvola doesn’t have to beat Helsinki in the diversity of its services, but the city could market itself as a new option for tourists who are looking for international experiences.”
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