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Calgary cabbie named International Driver of the Year

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WATCH: Welcoming visitors from around the world is a big part of the fun for people in Calgary’s tourism industry. And giving those visitors an extra warm welcome has earned one man some international recognition. Gil Tucker has the story.

Settle in for a trip with Jass Tatla and you’re in for an experience that’s no ordinary cab ride.

A veteran driver with Calgary’s Checker Cabs, Tatla has recently been named International Driver of the Year by the International Association of Transportation Regulators, a New York-based transportation industry group.

“It’s a big honour,” Tatla said.

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It comes just four months after another big honour. Tatla was crowned Calgary’s best driver at the annual White Hat Awards, which are handed out to recognize exceptional service in the city’s tourism industry.

It was an especially memorable moment for Tatla because he was sharing it with his nine-year-old daughter Gurleen.

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“When they announced my name, my daughter had tears in her eyes,” Tatla said “I said, ‘Why are you crying?’ She said, ‘I’m not crying — I’m so happy I can’t control myself.'”

READ MORE: Award-winning Calgary hotel doorman enjoys introducing guests to city: ‘A great place!’

Tatla has been a taxi driver in Calgary for the past 10 years. He immigrated to Canada from India in 2006.

“I love what I’m doing,” Tatla said. “Whoever sits in my car, my first goal is to provide them good service.”

It’s earned Tatla admiration from the many regular passengers who book him for trips.

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“Jass will make you feel like family,” passenger Akshay Mittal said. “The kind of advice he gives me is probably the same kind of advice I would get from my dad or from my brother. It’s always a fun ride with Jass.”

Tatla prides himself on being an ambassador for his city.

“I just try to explain to customers about Calgary, that Calgary is really beautiful — we have so many things.” Tatla said. “I try my best to bring more people to Calgary.”

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His employers are proud of his awards, and the example he sets for other drivers.

“Every person that gets into his cab, it’s like being in his home,” Checker’s Layna Segall said. “You’re a guest in his cab and that’s how he treats everybody.”

Every time Tatla gets behind the wheel, he’s helping steer his family toward future opportunities.

“I’m working hard to provide my kids a good education,” Tatla said. “([So that] they will be working in the big buildings downtown, because Canada is a great country. Whatever you want to achieve, you can.”