Coimbatore, Aug. 5 : Coimbatore, described as the Manchester of India, is abuzz with tourists throughout the year, as Nilgiris-bound tourists intending to holiday in Ooty, Coonoor or Kotagiri generally have to alight here.
To ensure a comfortable trip for tourists in Tamil Nadu, the State government is promoting the message of 'Virundhinar Pottrudhum' (honoring guests) among autorickshaw drivers of Coimbatore.
Auto-rickshaw drivers are being trained to interact politely with tourists, especially arriving from abroad. The step is expected to boost tourism here.
One hundred drivers are being trained initially in basic mannerism or etiquettes on how to deal with the tourists. They are also being taught additional languages including English and basics of other foreign languages that could be a big help to attend domestic and international tourists.
These auto rickshaw drivers are also being motivate to charge auto fares as indicated in the meters.
"Coimbatore is a very serene land, tourists can come here and enjoy their stay. To facilitate them even more we have launched a project so that people can have hassle-free and peaceful stay. Under this, we will be imparting knowledge and will give training to shopkeepers, temple priests and others but we will be starting off with auto drivers because tourists have their first interface with them," said Irai Anbu, Secretary, Tourism Cultural Development of the Tamil Nadu Government.
Autorickshaw drivers have welcomed the initiative and are keen to contribute to create a tourism friendly atmosphere in Coimbatore.
"Today, we had been given a chance to get the special training by the Tourist Department. We, as an association, welcome this scheme here in Coimbatore. We, the auto drivers, are going to try our level best to help tourists. Moreover, we are even ready to work on the fixed rates, though initially, we may lose money but it will be reaping gains in the long run," said Anifa, the President of Tamil Nadu Autorickshaw Drivers Association.
"We welcome this scheme and generally there is a wrong perception about auto drivers that they are corrupt and uncooperative. But we will use this opportunity to rectify our image," said Samuel, one auto driver.
Government of Tamil Nadu expects the auto Rickshaw drivers to communicate well with tourists. It is felt that they can be of assistance to tourists to locate desired destinations.
"Now we are earning rupees 100 to 150 a day. If we charge as per meter, our income will be even less. But with this scheme, as tourism will grow, our income will also increase. Moreover, with this training, we will be able to earn more as our skills will be enhanced," said Manigandan, another autorickshaw driver.
Around 39 auto drivers enrolled themselves in this tourism upliftment scheme at a formal function in Coimbatore. Uniforms were given to the autorickshaw drivers and they also took an oath pledging to serve tourists to the best of their capabilities.
In the first phase, around 100 tourist-friendly autorickshaws will be seen ferrying the tourists through the streets of this textile and industrial city of South India that is also the gateway to the enchanting Nilgiris. By Jehova G