Lessons in English and etiquette ahead of Commonwealth Games

March 30th, 2008 - 11:34 am ICT by admin  

By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, March 30 (IANS) Cab drivers, waiters and security staff are among those being trained in the English language and international etiquette as Delhi gets ready to host a rush of foreign visitors during the Commonwealth Games in 2010. The Delhi government in cooperation with the union tourism ministry is jointly implementing a capacity building programme (CBP) ahead of the mega sports event. It is meant for those people who have to frequently interact with tourists.

Officials claim to have successfully imparted capsule training in basic spoken English to over 2,000 cab drivers in the city so far. Under the CBP, waiters, security staff and gatemen will also be told about hygiene and politeness.

“The government will ensure that each and every cab driver in the city attends the CBP,” a senior Delhi government official said.

For the past two years, the city cab drivers have been undergoing training to learn to speak English.

“The initial response is encouraging. From April onwards, we intend to cover not less than 1,000 people every month in the city. By March 2009, we hope to cover all the people associated with hotels, tour operators, and travel agents,” the official said.

“All registered tour and travel operators will make their drivers available for training, while we will also try to reach out to every major hotel in the city.”

While the initiative is mainly focussed on Delhi, it will also target cities that are most likely to be visited by tourists who come to attend the Games. These are Agra and Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, Bhopal and Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, Gaya in Bihar and Puri in Orissa.

As per an official estimate, around two million foreign tourists and 3.5 million domestic tourists are likely to arrive in Delhi in 2010. In 2007, the city received 1.4 million tourists against 0.8 million in 2001.

The Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC) is working out a detailed plan for the CBP to be implemented during the current fiscal. The government has earmarked over Rs.150 million for the tourism sector in 2008-09.

A ministry official told IANS: “Waiters, security staff and cab drivers will play a key role so far as tourist satisfaction is concerned.

“In Delhi, we have trained over 1,000 cab drivers in speaking English, and around 2,000 others in general etiquette.”

Tour and travel operators are also happy over the government’s move, but recommend a proactive approach ahead of the Games starting October 2010.

“There are around 20,000 cab drivers in the city, out of whom around 1,500 drive radio cabs. Most of them have not studied beyond Class 10. Thus, we cannot train them in one go. Therefore, an aggressive action plan is required,” said C.L. Golcha of the Radio Taxi Operators Association.

Many cab operators are, however, making their own arrangements to help the drivers learn spoken English. They feel they should not be dependent on government efforts alone.

“It is good that the government has the CBP for cab drivers and other such people who have a direct and frequent interface with the tourists. We are going to put our drivers through such training on our own. We want to have 100 percent coverage,” said Karan Pawar, sales manager, ECO Rent-A-Car.

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