Meltdown-hit tourism sector to be hit further

Friday, 28 November 2008, 03:51 Hrs
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New Delhi: Indian tourism, already hit by the global meltdown, will be further impacted by Mumbai terrorist attacks, according to India Inc.

"We were worried about the economic slowdown and its impact on the tourism industry but this is a direct attack on our industry as it has targeted hotels and foreigners," said Indian Association of Tour Operators president Vijay Thakur.

"This is the peak period for the tourism sector and we were hoping business would pick up in a month. But now we don't think that might happen. It is too early to say how big an impact it will have but it definitely looks like the sector will be hit badly," he added.

"This is for the first time terrorists have targeted hotels and foreigners. It is certainly going to further dampen the sentiment of the tourism industry," Thakur said.

Kingfisher Airlines Chairman and CEO Vijay Mallya said the incident in Mumbai was catastrophic. "We are reviewing our flight schedules in and out of Mumbai," he added.

Said Rajeev Malhotra, a customer executive of travel operator "There is a panic situation all around. People are cancelling tickets. At this moment we will not be able to tell you the exact number of cancellations."

Adrian Mowat, an executive at global financial services firm JP Morgan, said the long-term economic impact of the terrorist incidents will be minimal.

"The tourism and travel industry will be impacted in the near-term. However in the long-term, sentiment to invest and travel to India won't be affected."

Mowat said he has advised about 10,000 of his Indian colleagues to stay home as the markets are closed and one of their offices is near the Oberoi Hotel.

SpiceJet CEO Sanjay Agarwal said his company's operations have not been impacted.

"We are offering passengers who missed their flights or chosen not to board in Mumbai or fly via Mumbai a choice of either rescheduling flights or a total refund or creating a credit shell with us," he added.

In Goa, where the International Film Festival of India is underway, overseas delegates and visitors have been put on high alert.

"The instructions were issued Wednesday night to ensure that there is alert on the beach belt and also in the starred hotels," police superintendent Atmaram Deshpande told a television channel.

"The festival venues have foolproof security. Organisers have been asked to be vigilant," Deshpande said.

Joydeep Ghosh, travel and leisure vertical head at consultancy KPMG, said Wednesday's terror attack could lead to hotel occupancies dipping in India in general.

"Last year, five million foreign tourists visited India and inflow was expected to grow at 15-16 percent. Year-on-year growth will be affected and we might not see a growth of more than 10 percent in the number of foreigners coming to India."

Almost 65 percent of hotel rooms are used by business travellers. About 30,000 rooms are in Mumbai and Delhi, Ghosh said, adding that this could fall by up to 85 percent following the Mumbai incident.
Source: IANS
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