GTA gives taxi drivers a ‘crash course’ in courtesy
Taxi Drivers are being targeted by the Guyana Tourism Authority for an industry makeover.
The Authority has launched a new kind of training seminar aimed at ‘educating’ taxi drivers, dispatchers and taxi service owners in what is expected of them as part of the tourism industry.
Chaired by Mr. Indranauth Haralsingh, Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority, the seminar was conducted yesterday afternoon at the GTA’s office in the Sophia Exhibition Centre. It involved several city taxi services.
Considering that the only real requirement to being a taxi driver in the country is to have a hire car license and an appropriately registered vehicle, Haralsingh noted that most taxi drivers needed to learn a little more about their impact on the tourism industry since there was no training for them in these vital areas.
He said that taxi drivers are sometimes the first point of contact for visitors to the country. Most visitors also utilise taxi services heavily in their travels about the country.
Add this together and the result is that a large part of the impression created in the minds of these visitors is actually created by taxi drivers and their respective services.
Haralsingh pointed out possible shortfalls to the present delivery of services and then went on to show the drivers how they could effectively correct these impressions.
Even the dispatchers for the services were not forgotten as they came in for some pointers on improving service on their end as well.
Transportation rates in Guyana are the cheapest anywhere in the Caribbean, according to Haralsingh.
The job is stressful and brings with it many challenges including the dangers of being hijacked, robbed or even just getting into accidents with inconsiderate drivers.
It is however still a very popular profession and those who are a part of that professional rank have certain responsibilities that they should not shirk.
Basic among these were the need for courtesy, professionalism and safer driving practices.
Haralsingh also noted that in terms of customer service there were a few little things that would make all the difference between losing a customer forever or gaining a loyal customer.
Drivers should work at engaging their customers, have an umbrella handy in case it rains to save a passenger from a soaking, ensure that their car is clean, perhaps even offer the customer their choice of music or a sweet upon entering the car.
Greetings and thanks, showing consideration for the elderly and the sick, these were all areas that according to Haralsingh could be improved upon.
He also noted that taxi drivers should be honest especially with tourists since overcharging them tends to leave a very bad impression of Guyanese and these offended visitors might end up discouraging others interested in coming to Guyana.
This is the third such lecture for taxi drivers. They have been held in other areas of the country upon request and once there are enough drivers available to facilitate the session.
Haralsingh also said, yesterday, that in the near future the GTA, in collaboration with the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) will be releasing a set of voluntary standards for the industry, an area which Haralsingh admitted the industry is seriously lacking.