CHENNAI:With an eye on creating a tourist-friendly local transportation, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has started engaging auto drivers. It commenced with a half-day training session on Saturday for 50 auto drivers plying in Chennai Central and Egmore stations.
Similar sessions would follow across the South Zone in Madurai, Ernakulam and Bangalore in the current financial year, officials said. Another session in Chennai would be in October.
Announced in this year’s railway budget, this is part of the ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ campaign to ensure that auto drivers behave properly with tourists, especially foreigners. Since auto drivers are the first points of contact, Railways wants to ensure that the first experience doesn’t turn bitter. Using the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds, IRCTC would train 1,000 auto and cab drivers across the country. Saturday’s session was the first such move by the southern zone of the railway public sector unit (PSU).
Tamil Nadu has consistently featured among the top 5 Indian states attracting domestic as well as foreign tourists.
While the tourism in-charge of IRCTC (SZ), L Ravikmar imparted soft-skills and explained the finer points of proper communication with tourists, an expert from the automobile sector was invited to guide the drivers on vehicle maintenance issues.
“Auto drivers were advised that things like personal hygiene, uniforms and name tags are key markers to gain trust. Pleasant experience for the tourist would translate into better business was driven home,” an IRCTC official said. “We especially told them not to distract tourists with unnecessary talk or by over-charging. These build confidence in the minds of the tourist,” the official added.
This was a model tried out by Konkan Railway last year and the success had prompted its implementation across the country, said IRCTC regional director V Sriram. “This training is to ensure drivers are genuine and can be ambassadors for the city,” Sriram told Express.
IRCTC also gave them their brochures in a tourism kit to be carried in autos with the next step being display of the brand on autos. These autos would be part of IRCTC database and recommended to guests.