Chennai, Dec 4: As part of tourism development programme, autorickshaws here will display colourful paintings of important heritage sites in Tamil Nadu.
The programme ' Tourism Friendly Autos', initated by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Department and the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC), was aimed at sensitising autorickshaw drivers on the importance of tourism promotion and mould them as effective tourism ambassadors, TTDC Director M Rajaram told to the sources here.
''To begin with, we have selected 50 autos in the city for this promotional programme. We are giving preference to those who own autorickshaw and drive them,'' he said.
Initially, these autos would be operating from Central Railway station, he informed.
A tourism kit containing literatures about heritage places in Tamil Nadu and a city map containing a detailed sketch would be given to the autorickshaw drivers to guide the tourists travelling in their vehicle, he pointed out.
Mr Rajaram said plans were afoot to bring out a telephone directory containing the details of the drivers, who underwent the training. It would be made available with the Tourism Department staff in Chennai Central and Egmore railway stations.
''Anandha Vikatan, a Tamil weekly magazine, partnering with us in this promotional campaign has agreed to provide free mediclaim policy to each auto driver, enrolled with us for this unique programme,'' he said.
Apart from this, the magazine would provide two sets of uniforms to the drivers, he said, adding the uniform would carry a 'Friendly Auto logo designed by us.
During the next phase, the programme would be launched in important bus stands and other railway stations in the city, he said adding the programme would be extended to important cities in the state.
Mr Rajaram said workshops would be organised regularly for the autorickshaw drivers to impart more knowledge about tourism. These workshops would instill ecological consciousness, civic sense, courteous behaviour, friendly disposition, affable nature, sincere integrity and constant commitment to the members, he added. ''We are planning to include railway porters into this programme soon, he said adding that they would be trained separately on how to handle the tourists at stations.
''We are also negotiating with several agencies to extend the mediclaim policy to the porters too,'' he said.
The state had registered a growth of 13 per cent in internatinoal tourist arrivals and 21.3 per cent in domestic arrivals, while foreign exchange earnings from tourism was Rs 3,020 crore, he said and added that there was an increase of 20 to 22 per cent of tourist arrivals in Tamil Nadu every year.
The State ranked third in both domestic and foreign tourist arrivals in India, he informed.