Dr. Avnish Jolly, Chandigarh , 6th March, 2009 :City beautiful has decided to hire student guides well versed in foreign languages to help international tourists overcome problems faced by them due to language barrier.
Chandigarh administration is initially planning to appoint students studying different foreign languages, particularly French, German, Spanish and Russian.
Samwartak Singh Director Chandigarh Tourism said that Often there are tourists who do not speak English and this has led to various sorts of problems for them. Keeping this factor in mind we have decided to appoint students of foreign languages as tourist guides and the initiative will also students earn some money and enable them gain experience that will help them once they complete their course.
Singh further informed that the proposal had been mooted keeping in view the fact that the number of tourists visiting Chandigarh has been steadily increasing over the years—from 23,284 in 2005 to 25,217 in 2006 and 26,567 in 2007.
The number of foreigners visiting Chandigarh further jumped 21 per cent to touch 32,074 in 2008, he informed.
Apart from being one of the country’s few planned cities, Chandigarh is also the gateway to many tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh. It is also well connected to Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana and Punjab as well.
"Initially we will appoint only 20 tourist guides on our panel who can fluently speak at least one foreign language," Chandigarh Tourism Deputy Director Vinod Kalia said.
He further informed that while preference would be given to local youths, the city administration will make sure that the guide is well informed about all the places in Chandigarh.
"A guide will represent Chandigarh to the outer world and his job will be a big responsibility. So before the appointment we will also see that he is well-mannered, polite and possesses the aptitude required to become a guide," Kalia stated.
Currently the tourism department has five tourist guides on its panel but none of them can speak a foreign language. Earlier there were 11 tourist guides but many left as the job did not guarantee them a regular income.
Last year, the administration here had launched a special police force to help tourists as also a bed and breakfast scheme.