KOCHI: If the tenth edition of the Kerala Travel Mart was the numero uno step taken by the government to invigorate the tourism sector of the state wrecked by floods, the sui generis capacity building training programmes initiated by the Ernakulam District Tourism Promotion Council(DTPC) along with the Responsible Tourism Mission and the Tourism Department is the second step that would openly embrace tourists.
In a move that would enhance their experience, auto and taxi drivers empanelled by the Cochin Port Trust would be provided capacity building training classes that would elevate their standard to that of a ‘Responsible Tourism’ chauffeur. “Earlier, passengers arriving on vessels would be swarmed with drivers bargaining and soliciting with them on a direct basis. Cruises are driven by rich experiences and if tourists are displeased, it could affect the industry. Therefore we gave DTPC the responsibility to man auto and taxi services since the mid of the last tourist season,” said Goutam Gupta, traffic manager, Cochin Port Trust.
DTPC, which had managed the dispensation on an experimental basis last year has resumed its services in full swing this year. “We asked DTPC to devise a structured package for the passengers; one that entails sightseeing in autos and taxis at a fixed rate so as to avoid bargaining. Passengers would be informed of the respective packages by their cruise vessel agents. DTPC was requested by us to groom our auto and taxi drivers as they represent the state to our tourists; they double up as tourist guides too,” shared Goutam.
The first session of the capacity building training programme devised by the DTPC on Tuesday witnessed an overwhelming response. Trained in batches, the session saw the attendance of 75 drivers. “The Cochin Port Trust has a total of 271 autos and 126 taxis. These drivers will be provided with communication-enhancing techniques, tourism centres’ details, basic information of places and most importantly, etiquette classes,” said S Vijayakumar, secretary, DTPC.
With complete focus on Responsible Tourism, initiatives are conducted in a manner that they benefit both sides and develop a symbiotic relationship between the state and tourists. “Auto and taxi drivers are an unorganised sector. Through these sessions, we plan to incorporate them into the tourism sector by training them to understand the expectations of tourists. The ultimate aim is to raise them to chauffeurs. This would improve their confidence and boost their morality, thereby immensely helping the tourism industry,” Vijayakumar added.