The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hoteliers learn to live with sudden jolt

New Delhi, Aug. 26: The Mumbai blasts yesterday has sent a shudder through the hotel and tourism industry — but the mavens say it won’t scupper their upbeat forecasts of a turnaround this winter after two bad years. Tourists all over the world have become used to terrorist threats since 9/11 terror attacks in the US and the more recent Bali blasts.

“Tourists all over the world will see this blast in its proper perspective. Such attacks have taken place elsewhere too and the people know that. There is an attempt to make political statements through such attacks which will hurt the fortunes of the industry marginally. We hope things will be back to normal within a fortnight,” said Shyam Suri, secretary general, Federation of Hotels and Restaurants Association of India (FHRAI).

After being sandbagged by the debilitating effects of the slump in world tourism following the 9/11 attacks and the travel cutbacks prompted by the Gulf war, the hotel industry in the country was beginning to see the first shoots of a recovery.

However, the devastating blasts in Mumbai has sent a frisson through the hotel and tourism industry which is trying to put on a very brave face.

Taj group of hotels spokesperson Ravi Dubey said, “The impact on our bookings so far is just 1.5 per cent. With terrorist activities taking place all over the world, including the developed countries, people are becoming resilient to such episodes. It is normal business for us without any major suspected cancellations.”

FHRAI officials maintain that India will witness an increase of 7-8 per cent in foreign tourist arrivals this year. They see no reason to temper their forecasts after the brutal blasts.

Gautam Anand, general manager, ITC Maurya Sheraton, said, “We just hope that the industry is able to overcome this scare. India suffered the effects of the SARS virus and the Iraq war. Of course, the blast in Mumbai will also leave its mark.”

Anand added: “We expect the situation to become normal within 10 days. We should not overreact and rather strive hard to project an image of a more confident India.”

However, Tarun Thukral, general manager of Le Meridien, was more cautious: “Cancellations by business travellers is not expected in the metros. However, leisure travel may be affected for a while.”

Meanwhile, both the British High Commission and the Japanese embassy have asked their citizens travelling to Mumbai to exercise caution.

In an amendment to its travel advisory for India, the British High Commission said, “It is not yet known who was responsible for these blasts or what their motives are, but there is no reason to believe that the hotel in Mumbai or the foreign nationals were a target.”

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