As part of an effort to turn Maharashtra into a tourism powerhouse in its 50th year, the state government has taken on a project that its citizens had been waiting for - training in courtesy and etiquette for taxi and rickshaw drivers.
The programme will kick off on Monday and will cover 2 lakh drivers, of which, 50,000 are from Mumbai.
It will be part of the Visit Golden Maharashtra project, conceived by the Maharashtra Economic Development Council (MEDC) and supported by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation and state government.
The authorities hope that it will help create a positive image of the state among tourists who come to visit.
The state has engaged ‘For She Travels and Logistics’, that started the first taxi service exclusively for ladies in Mumbai and Delhi, to impart the training during the eight-month programme.
Each class will have 100 to 150 drivers and will last three to four hours.
At the end, the drivers will be given certificates that they can display in their taxis.
The primary aim is to impart soft skills, such as how to address people respectfully. Drivers will also be taught safety norms, fuel conservation techniques and put through a refresher course on road signs.
Apart from this, they will be provided with information on tourist interests that they can pass on to visitors.
MEDC Vice-President (International) Vinod Gupta said the programme will help raise drivers’ business prospects and help the tourism industry.
“Taxi and rickshaw drivers are the first point of interaction for tourists. Their behaviour can create a lasting impression on visitors’ minds and affect how they feel about the city .”
The response from taxi drivers has been good.
“Often, we feel the need for this kind of information. Training in basic etiquette will do us all good,” said Mahim-based taxi driver Mohammad Ziaulla (43).