Mumbai campaigns for a tourism comeback


Security has been stepped up at Mumbai hotels since the Nov. 26 terror attacks that hit two landmark hotels and other sites and killed more than 170 people. Now local and national governments are working to attract visitors with road shows, media invitations and a “one companion travels free” program they expect to unveil this month.

Officials are trying to counteract the effect of foreign governments’ travel advisories that may lead potential visitors to conclude that India’s financial center is dangerous, bruised and battered.

Although it stops short of warning visitors against travel to India, the U.S. State Department has issued an alert citing a “high threat of terrorism” and urging visitors to avoid crowds and keep a low profile. But some visitors’ fears have abated. “Initially I was worried, but I feel safe here now,” said Joerg Radomski, 40, a German tourist in the Mumbai airport wrapping up a trip he booked before the attacks.

Karan Khiani, who was on duty as food and beverage manager at Mumbai’s Intercontinental Hotel when the attacks hit, thinks the foreign travel advisories are a bit over-the-top.

“When you’re at the place, you realize it’s not the negative picture they make it to be on TV,” he said.

Planners were to start today’s Mumbai Marathon at the main railway station, which featured prominently in the attacks.

Vijay Thakur, New Delhi-based president of the Indian Assn. of Tour Operators, said the number of American and British tourists decreased dramatically amid reports that attackers specifically targeted them. He said he expected business would remain slow through the fall.