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Driving home a message on being tourist-friendly

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SHARING HIS EXPERIENCE: Purushothaman, a tourist-friendly autorickshaw driver of Chennai, addressing a meeting of autorickshaw drivers organised by the Tourism Department at the Collectorate in Vellore on Thursday. Sanwat Ram, Chairman, TTDC; V. Irai Anbu, Secretary, Department of Tourism, Art and Culture; and Dharmendra Pratap Yadav, Collector, are in the picture.
SHARING HIS EXPERIENCE: Purushothaman, a tourist-friendly autorickshaw driver of Chennai, addressing a meeting of autorickshaw drivers organised by the Tourism Department at the Collectorate in Vellore on Thursday. Sanwat Ram, Chairman, TTDC; V. Irai Anbu, Secretary, Department of Tourism, Art and Culture; and Dharmendra Pratap Yadav, Collector, are in the picture.

P.V.V. Murthi

Training planned for autorickshaw drivers

VELLORE: The Department of Tourism, Government of Tamil Nadu, has initiated steps to introduce tourist-friendly autorickshaws in Vellore, by training drivers to be polite, courteous and helpful to visiting tourists, on the lines of a programme launched in Chennai.

Participating in a meeting of autorickshaw, taxi and tourist bus drivers organised by the department at the Collectorate here on Thursday to introduce the programme ‘Virundhinar Potrudhum, Virundhinar Potrudhum’ (let us respect visitors), V. Irai Anbu, Secretary, Department of Tourism and Culture, said the programme in Chennai had become a success, thanks to the patronage of tourists, including those from abroad.

A foreign tourist, who was impressed by the courtesy and hospitality of Purushothaman, a driver in Chennai, gifted him an autorickshaw. Such is the spontaneous patronage that tourist-friendly drivers could get only if they were courteous, friendly and helpful, he said.

A tourist forms an opinion about the people of a town or city only on the basis of the behaviour of autorickshaw/taxi drivers.

The rivers should give correct information to the tourists about the places of interest. For this purpose, the Department of Tourism had distributed to them pamphlets containing details about Vellore and other tourist spots.

Mr. Irai Anbu said special training would be imparted to those auto drivers who volunteered to function as tourist-friendly drivers. The department also proposed to provide a three-month training to the volunteers in spoken English to help them to communicate effectively with foreign tourists. The autorickshaws of drivers who volunteer to function as tourist-friendly drivers would be given a special colour and designated as tourist-friendly autorickshaws, he said.

Sanwat Ram, Chairman and Managing Director, Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC), said the unique programme received good response from the autorickshaw and taxi drivers and the public in all 12 districts where it had been introduced.

Autorickshaw and taxi drivers are the first contacts for the tourists immediately on their arrival at railway stations or airports. That is why the department had decided to provide training to them to be tourist-friendly, he said.

Collector Dharmendra Pratap Yadav said transport facilities are crucial in developing tourism, and the autorickshaw drivers played a major role in attracting tourists. L. Ramadoss, Additional Superintendent of Police, Prohibition Enforcement Wing, said that autorickshaw drivers should know the history of places of interest and ancient monuments such as the Vellore fort and should help the tourists.

Mr. Purushothaman said 39 autorickshaw drivers had joined the programme in Chennai since December 2007, when it was launched. All of them had earned a good name among the public in view of their tourist-friendly attitude. Murali, another autorickshaw driver from Chennai, said that if the drivers charged meter rates, more tourists would patronise them and their income would improve. G. Kuppan of the Vellore District Auto Drivers’ Association said the drivers in the district were prepared to respond positively to the government’s initiative.

P. Dharani, Regional Transport Officer, Vellore, spoke. A. Venugopal, Tourist Officer, Mamallapuram, welcomed the gathering. A. Raja, Information and Public Relations Officer, Vellore, proposed a vote of thanks.

Earlier, the autorickshaw and taxi drivers took a pledge that they would behave with dignity and honesty with the public, charge reasonable fare and be tourist-friendly. Mr. Irai Anbu distributed uniforms to the drivers.

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