PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia - Well-trained taxi drivers can help shape and improve tourists' perception about Malaysia.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said taxi drivers are the âpulse of the ecosystemâ for tourism as they meet and interact with tourists who come to the country.
âIf taxi drivers are polite, courteous and customer-friendly, speak good things about the country and show a positive attitude, tourists will feel welcome.
âTourists meet thousands of taxi drivers and through their interactions, tourists' perception of Malaysia is formed,â he said at the launch of the Tourism Taxi Ambassadors programme at Dataran Putra today.
The launch was attended by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, several other cabinet ministers and more than 500 taxi drivers.
Najib said the government decided to appoint taxi drivers as tourism ambassadors as it realises that cabbies are the front-liners in welcoming and interacting with tourists.
He explained that taxi drivers have been trained and given guidance on how to project a good image and treat their customers well, thus by following it, they can help elevate Malaysia's image to higher levels.
The programme was launched in March and as of June 28, about 2,315 taxi drivers have been selected to undergo training.
It was reported that some 4,000 taxi drivers will be appointed as ambassadors, after they have completed a one-day course at the Malaysian Tourism Centre.
Najib also said the plight and welfare of taxi drivers will always be taken care of by the government, and announced a RM35 million incentive for 67,000 taxi drivers nationwide under the Teksi Rakyat 1Malaysia (1Malaysia People's Taxi) programme last month.
Apart from that, Najib has also announced a new model which enables long-serving drivers who leased taxis to apply for individual permits.
Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar told reporters later that the new model for taxi permits announced by Najib is still at the preliminary stage.
However, he said SPAD hopes to submit the papers on the proposal to the cabinet by the end of this month.