Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Oct 29:
Auto rickshaw and taxi drivers across the state would act as “ground ambassadors” of Odisha Tourism.
For this, a day-long orientation programmed was organised by the department at Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM) here where more than 220 auto drivers participated.
The orientation programme included lessons on “Atithi Debo Bhava”, important tourist spots and rich heritage of Odisha, basic etiquettes and mannerism, maintaining basic hygiene and also helping the tourists to identify and appreciate Odisha handloom and handicrafts.
“The role of auto and taxi drivers in the promotion of Odisha tourism, culture and heritage is very important as they are the “first point of contact and interaction” with both domestic as well as foreign tourists,” Minister, Tourism & Culture Ashok Chandra Panda said while inaugurating the programme.
“It is the behavioural aspects like manners, etiquettes, hygiene of drivers which will help in leaving a lasting imprint in the minds of tourists visiting the state. It is our primary responsibility to ensure that the tourist visiting the state derive maximum value from the tour and return with satisfaction and happiness,” he added.
Principal Secretary, Tourism, L.N. Gupta emphasized the need for training of human resources at the ground level like auto/taxi drivers, tour guides, tour operators, travel agents, hawkers etc. and described them as “ground ambassadors” of Odisha tourism. He stated that similar orientation programmes will be held at regular intervals to train around 15000 taxi/auto drivers of Bhubaneswar, Puri, Konark, Sambalpur, Balasore, Gopalpur and other towns in a phased manner.
Among others, P.S.Ranpise, Addl. Commissioner of Police highlighted the significance of the Pink Auto Drivers’ scheme as an effective tool for empowerment of youth and their role in promoting Odisha Tourism and rich cultural heritage.
Anil Kumar Samal, Director & Addl. Secretary, Tourism explained the objectives behind the orientation programme and stated that such programmes will be taken up on a “mission mode” throughout the state to cover the major tourist attractions. Dr. S.K. Lenka, Director, IITTM who was coordinating the programme stated that they would like to offer the services of IITTM on full time basis for the cause of promoting Odisha tourism.