For Games, Himachal tourist guides get English lessonsJuly 22nd, 2010 - 12:00 pm ICT by IANS
By Vishal Gulati
Shimla, July 22 (IANS) Thanks to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, many tourist guides in Himachal Pradesh are suddenly realising a long-held dream - speaking Queen’s English! This city too is hoping to relive its old British connection during the event.
The state government expects a large number of foreign tourists, mainly from Britain, to visit the hill state around the time of the Oct 3-14 Games. And to make their trip enjoyable and hassle-free, it is equipping tourist guides with English language skills and etiquette.
The state plans to woo Games tourists to the once British-dominated settlements like Shimla, Dharamsala, Kasauli, Dalhousie, Dharampur, Dagshai and Subathu.
“We have started imparting training to the registered tourist guides in most of the prominent tourist towns so that they can at least reply to the basic queries of tourists. For this, they are being familiarised with a few oral communication English words and basic etiquettes too,” tourism director Arun Sharma told IANS.
The first batch of 40 guides from Shimla was trained and the response was quite overwhelming, he said.
“During the training, our brand ambassadors (the guides) were also familiarised with the historical monuments and buildings located in Shimla so that the tourists get a correct brief,” Sharma added.
Training programmes will also be started shortly in other tourist destinations like Dharamsala, Chamba, Dalhousie, Manali, Kasauli and Kalpa.
A total of 200 tourist guides will be trained before the Games starting Oct 3.
Before the training, the tourist guides barely spoke English. Now they have picked up a few English words and are practising to improve their pronunciation.
“Before joining the course, I rarely uttered any English word. Now I am focusing more on the pronunciation of some commonly used words. It’s still not good, but it’s improving,” tourist guide Deepak Sood said.
“Even my confidence level has increased after a pep talk and now I can talk to anyone with eye-to-eye contact,” he added.
Sharma said to attract visitors, the tourism department would be releasing a book “Har Ghar Kuch Kahta Hai” (every house has its own history), a compendium of historical buildings of Shimla.
“The book would be displayed at prominent tourist information centres and the venues of the Games so that the tourists, who have roots in Shimla, can easily visit. We are also going to put up signboards outside prominent historical buildings with a brief history,” the official said.
More than 60 years after the British left the country, Himalayan towns still attract their descendants who are eager to know more about their roots.
Most of the tourists want to visit the centuries- old cemeteries to pay respect to their family members.
The Queen of Hills, as Shimla was fondly called by the British, has 91 British-era heritage buildings.
These include Ellerslie (housing the state secretariat), Vidhan Sabha, Peterhoff - which was completely renovated after being devastated in a fire nearly two decades ago and now serves as a state guest house, United Services Club, Town Hall, Barnes Court housing Raj Bhavan, Viceregal Lodge housing the premier Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, and Gordon Castle.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at email@example.com)
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