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GTA starts training programme for tour guides in Darjeeling

Darjeeling : The tourism department of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration started an initiative to train guides of tour agencies operating in the hills in an effort to make them visitor-friendly. The first phase of the programme will see the participants being introduced to equipment used in the trade and this is to be followed by instructions on the 28 days activities. “The 28 days programme is basically to provide guides employed with various tour operators with the necessary information to guide tourists This includes knowledge about the equipment that are used, the history of the destinations, the culture prevalent in the hills and flora and fauna of the places,” said GTA tourism department executive director Sonam Bhutia. The trainees were today given a first-hand demonstration on how to use equipment needed for trekking and climbing hilly and mountainous terrain. “It is important to ensure guides are well versed with the equipment used in their job. 

We will back this up with field and spot training,” said Sangay Sherpa, the department’s adventure wing and course coordinator. As many as 32 participants from Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Maneybhanjyang were present at the programme today. They will embark on a 12-day trekking exercise and cover nearly 80km. The guides will trek to Phalut and Sandakphu near the Indo-Nepal border to explore and learn more about the sub-Himalayas. “We will be taking the trainees to various places such as Rimbick, Gorkhey, Gairibas, Singalila National Park and other areas. They will learn about the flora and fauna of the places, culture, tradition and history, as these are aspects important to know while guiding tourists,” said Sherpa. The 28 days programme will also include activities such as tent pitching and map reading, rafting, kayaking, cliff-jumping and river-crossing among many more. The trainees will also visit historical places, tea estates, monasteries and learn first-aid administration.

 Elaborating on the programme, the first of its kind since the formation of the new administrative body, GTA tourism assistant director Dipak Kumar Lohar said, “This is the first time a training programme is being conducted for guides employed with various agencies. We felt the need for the training to ensure guides are properly trained in various aspects of tourism. Some of them are not aware of historical places in the hills.” Lohar said a similar programme had been conducted under the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. “When the DGHC was functional, we did have a programme to train guides who were registered with the tourism department. We will see how the current programme takes shape and take steps accordingly,” he said. Once the training is over, the participants will receive certificates of acknowledgement from the GTA. The tourism department also plans to get the guides listed under its aegis to ensure tourists they are in safe hands.

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