After training tourist guides and cab drivers, the tourism ministry has set its sights on training immigration officers for a more tourist-friendly approach.

Immigration officers are the first people foreign travellers meet when they land in the country and their experience is not always pleasant. In the run-up to Commonwealth Games, all that is set to change.

Tourism minister Kumari Selja has written to home minister P Chidambaram urging that officers be given training for a more “tourist-friendly approach”. The ministry has also suggested that officers be given a uniform and separate counters for domestic and foreign tourists for quicker clearances.
In most airports worldwide, officials at passport check and immigration counters have a uniform. The tourism ministry has offered to design and pay for the uniforms.

The letter also suggested separate counters for domestic and foreign tourists to ensure quicker clearances. “This will ensure not just faster clearance but avoid overcrowding of counters. There has been a demand for setting up of a separate immigration counter for Indian nationals arriving at major international airports in India for easy facilitation,” a source said.

The tourism ministry, in coordination with the Bureau of Immigration, has already conducted a two-day programme to bring about a “behavioural and attitudinal change” in officials while dealing with foreign tourists. The training programme was conducted by the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management in September 2009 which was attended by 127 officials. The ministry wants to extend this to all officers at the Delhi international airport and other airports as well.

With Commonwealth Games scheduled in October, the tourism ministry has been pushing for a more tourist-friendly approach by service providers including cab drivers, tourist guides, tourist police and others who will be in touch with tourists during their visit.

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