One thousand tourist guides, including 146 who can speak foreign languages, would fan out across the 55 locations where G-20 meetings would be held over the next one year to facilitate the travel of foreign delegates and “ensure a unique Indian experience” for them.
With India assuming the G-20 presidency on Thursday, the government has embarked on a massive exercise to showcase India and training tourist guides or tourist facilitators is part of this process, a senior official in the Tourism Ministry told The Hindu.
The training of the tourist guides is being done through the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management and Regional Directors from the Ministry of Tourism.
A major part of the training would include language skill programmes in nine foreign languages like French and German. Other focus areas would be etiquettes, knowledge of local attractions and monuments, cuisines, handicrafts and souvenirs.
“We want to give delegates an end-to-end experience right from the time they get down at the airport. From local attractions and cuisine to medical facilities and security, all information would be provided by these tourist guides,” the official said.
Sources said apart from these 1,000 guides, the Tourism Ministry has also asked the Archaeological Survey of India to draw up a list of local monument-specific guides who would be trained as and when meetings are held in those particular cities.
The focus would be on UNESCO world heritage sites and the 100 centrally protected monuments which have been lit up for a week beginning Thursday.
Training is being imparted to other stakeholders as well like customs, immigration and ground staff at airports, local administrative officers, shopkeepers, priests at heritage temples, taxi drivers and even boatmen. The training would be imparted in soft skills and communication, liaisoning to expedite problem resolution, first aid and even personal hygiene.
Training to boatmen, for example, would come in handy in places like Udaipur which is known for its lakes, they said. All stakeholders involved had already been trained in the city, which is the destination for the first meeting.
Training was conducted from November 20-23 in Udaipur where the first G-20 sherpa meeting would be held from December 5-7.
Nearly 300 taxi drivers have also been trained in soft skills, behavioural skills and one basic foreign language like French, German and Arabic.
Out of the 299 taxi and cab drivers who had been trained, 134 are women.
During India’s G-20 presidency, over 200 meetings would be held in 56 locations across the country, which includes major cities and heritage centres like Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Chandigarh, Mahabalipuram and Khajuraho.
The first tourism working group meeting is being held in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat from February 8-10. Subsequent meetings would be held in Siliguri/Darjeeling (April 3-5), Srinagar (May 22-24) and Goa (June 19-20).