Mangaluru, Mar 11, 2019: There was a mad scramble among taxi drivers as foreign tourists exited the New Mangalore Port (NMP) looking for a convenient and budget-friendly mode of transport to local sight-seeing places.
Tempers ran high and, soon, drivers began elbowing one another in order to grab the attention of foreigners. In the melee, foreign tourists were also heckled. An auto rickshaw driver and a taxi driver got into an argument over haphazard parking and soon rained blows at one another much to the shock of tourists.
“This has become common, when a foreign cruise vessel berths at the port,” a CISF constable guarding the port told DH.
“What is detestable is that they act like their survival depends on the money from these foreign tourists,” the guard added with scorn.
At the lounge for passengers from foreign cruise vessels – a highly restricted area inside the port – a tout was trying to impress an elderly tourist who wanted to visit Panambur beach. The tout tried convincing her that the roads to Panambur beach were dirty and visiting Summer Sands or Malpe beach was a better option.
The CISF constable posted at the gate agreed that the tourists, looking to enjoy the local culture, have to also witness the ‘ugly side’ of the city.
Sources at NMPT said that according to Ministry’s Standard Operation Procedure (SOP), the Tourism Department has to set up a taxi booth.
“The district administration must set up a free or paid taxi booth outside thegate, like at the airport,” demanded people.
Dr Uday Shetty, Tourism Department assistant director of the district, said that the pre-paid taxi booth outside the port gates was in tendering stage. “We have set up an information desk at the lounge to guide tourists on the fares they have to pay for different destinations,” he said.
Dr Shetty said that nearly 80% of the foreign tourists opt for package tours, offered by the cruise vessels in a tie-up with local tourist operators. “The trouble arises when tourists decide to explore the city on their own,” he said and agreed that the behaviour of taxi and auto rickshaw drivers was not only deplorable but also sent a wrong message about the city to tourists.