Facing criticism for ripping off tourists and being rude, Istanbul’s taxi drivers may shed their negative image soon. Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy announced yesterday that some 2,500 drivers in Turkey’s most populated city will undergo “behavior and tourism training.”
The training will cover drivers working at Istanbul Airport and Sabiha Gökçen Airport as well as in the historic peninsula where notable landmarks like the Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar are located.Speaking at a meeting with taxi drivers at Istanbul’s new airport, where the pilot stage of the training will be held, Ersoy said drivers would be educated in 13 different fields, from behavior, history, culture and tourism to first aid. Those successful in the training will have the right to put “tourism friendly” logo on their taxicabs.
Istanbul taxi drivers once praised for their gentlemanly ways, have been at the center of a string of complaints in the past two years, from scamming to sexual assault. Videos of taxi drivers harassing tourists and overcharging them have done the rounds on social media and a number of trials are underway against drivers over those allegations. They are also criticized for picking wealthier tourists over locals, especially in the historic areas and other places popular among tourists.
Ersoy said one in every three tourists visiting Turkey enters the country through Istanbul and most of them choose Istanbul Airport and this was why they chose it as a pilot training ground. The minister said they would also introduce a new taxi app that will allow users to choose which route they can take and see toll roads and alternative routes before taking a taxi ride across Istanbul.