The Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) is in the process of recruiting about 500 college students as freelance guides to add value to its package tours.
On an average, TTDC organises 26 different types of tours in a month and guides are available only in few specified sectors. Moreover, the guides find it difficult to narrate interesting details to the tourists either in English or in Hindi.
To offset the problem, TTDC officials have hit upon the idea of approaching city-based colleges where tourism is taught as a subject. Besides, it would be easier for them to train the youngsters, who are fluent in English and know more than one south Indian language. Currently, the Corporation organises one-day trips from Chennai to Kancheepuram, Mamallapuram, Tirupathi, Tiruvannamalai, Vellore (Sripuram Golden Temple) and Puducherry. Besides, temple tours are high on its agenda and these include a one-day amman tour, a three-day Navagraha (abode of nine planets) tour, a four-day tour to Arupadai veedu (six abodes of Lord Muruga), a five-day 108 Amman tours, a six-day south India tour, a seven-day Kollur Mookambika temple tour, as well as other eight-day tours. Speaking to The Hindu, a TTDC official said, “As most of our tours are city-centric, we would like to employ those who have some knowledge about historic places, know interesting anecdotes, and know the area thoroughly and are willing to serve with a smile. We will provide them with short-term training, uniforms, identity cards and mobile phone with a closed user group network.”
To help visitors, TTDC will print booklets and screen short films. In places such as Mamallapuram, TTDC is planning to come out with audio guides that will narrate the basic details of the place.
Apart from displaying the contact details of senior officials in charge of tours, accommodation, food and transportation in all coaches, a complaints or suggestion book will also be made available. This apart, a tourist can also express his grievances through the TTDC website.
“Most of our tours start from Chennai. We have hotels in important places and are now thinking about starting one-day tours from other places such as Tiruchi, Madurai, Tirunelveli and Tuticorin, so that it helps the tourists extend their stay,” said another official.
S. Subbalakshmi, Head of the History & Tourism department, Ethiraj College for Women, said it was the only college in the city to offer a skill-based course in Travel and Tourism Management since 2003-04. It has produced hundreds of professionals, she said.
“At the end of the three-year course, our students have been absorbed by several leading travel agents and tourist operators. They have been taught about marketing, air ticketing, hotel management and front office management, among other subjects, by experts in the fields,” she added.