Mumbai: Giving lessons in etiquette to Mumbai’s taxi drivers and working hard to improve the much criticised conditions of hygiene and sanitation at tourist spots are just some of the initiatives to be undertaken by the state-run Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).
Maharashtra receives 28.5 per cent of over 20 million foreign tourists to India annually and authorities are trying their level best to exploit the tourism potential of this state. “Since we are blessed with a 720-kilometre long beautiful coastline, any number of historical sites and wildlife parks as well as other attractions, MTDC adopted the tagline of Maharashtra Unlimited,” says its Chairman, Dr Jagdish Patil.
“We are not only focusing on putting the state’s infrastructure in place but working on several initiatives at the same time,” he told journalists on Thursday. With Mumbai being the popular point of entry to foreign tourists, “we will be imbibing soft skills in taxi drivers who will be trained how to behave, transport and guide tourists,” he says. A three-hour audio-visual interactive session will be held for taxi drivers in batches, he added.
Another key focus will be on improving hygiene and sanitation particularly in rural areas. “We will be introducing bio-toilets developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation in eco-sensitive locations as well as at tourist spots with historical monuments.” Adopting hygienic way of food preparation will be first started in their own MTDC resorts and then enforced at other food joints and hotels that will need to be hygiene-certified.
MTDC is also working on an innovative scheme of training 300,000 students who live near places of tourist interest with the aim of getting them to adopt certain destinations. “They could help in not only protecting these spots but also create awareness among the locals to take pride in their heritage. It is essential to bring in attitudinal changes in them,” said Patil. Already 28 destinations have been adopted by colleges.
Describing Maharashtra as a paradise for those seeking adventure, he said MTDC has begun developing base camps for trekkers and para gliders. A diving institute has also been set up in Tarkarli in Sindhudurg district. Trainers from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors have been training local people and it is hoped that in the days to come, Maharashtra’s beaches will attract tourists interested in scuba diving, snorkeling and deep sea diving.
Throwing open Mumbai’s Film City, where several Bollywood films and TV serials are shot, to tourists is also on the anvil “but since it is an independent organisation, we are awaiting confirmation from them”.