London terror attack to hit tour & travel business hard

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NEW DELHI: Tour operators and booking portals are expecting cancellations and a short-term dip in bookings for London following Wednesday’s terror attack there.

With the pound depreciating against the rupee post Brexit and cheaper airfares and promotional offers, London was being considered as one of the most sought after destinations for Indian travellers this summer.

“The unfortunate attack on the UK parliament has happened just ahead of the peak summer travel season,” said Sharat Dhall, COO-B2C at Yatra.com. “While it is early to quantify the impact of this incident on travel to the country, we anticipate a short-term negative impact on bookings with some travellers preferring to shift to other destinations for their summer vacations.”

Dhall said the UK has always been a preferred travel option for Indian tourists, and more so since the depreciation of the pound post Brexit.

On Wednesday, an assailant, now identified as Khalid Masood, sped across Westminster Bridge in a car, ramming into pedestrians along the way and stabbed a policeman outside Britain’s parliament.

Travkart.com, which offers both online and offline holiday solutions, specializing in fixed departures and curated itineraries said it is getting calls from clients to hold confirmations as they might delay or cancel their trip and shift to other destinations.

“There will surely be a dip in London bookings as summer vacations are approaching soon and London is one of the most preferred destinations,” said Manheer Singh Sethi, co-founder of Travkart. “April-July is considered high peak season. Most the of the bookings are done in March and April as visa process takes time. London also hosts a variety of corporate events, which are exhibited or visited by Indian travellers, which will also be affected.”

Chirag Agrawal, associate director at holiday marketplace Travel Triangle, said terror attacks anywhere in the world create panic, leading to hesitation and at times cancellation. “However, it is only for temporary period, travel becomes usual after a few days or weeks. We have received a few calls from travellers to enquire about the incident. Our travel agents are in constant touch with them ensuring their safety.” Bookings for summer 2017 were likely to be up by 15% for the UK buoyed by the sharp fall in pound.

Mohit Sardana, chief business officer at GoFro, said immediate trips might get postponed by a week or so as a result of the attack. “It is a resilient city and it bounced back after the July 2005 bombings. Hopefully, things would be normal around the peak leisure travel period in April,” said Rakshit Desai, managing director at FCM Travel Solutions. Subrayamanya Sharma, chief marketing officer at Cleartrip, said the company is sensitive to customer distress and will go an extra mile if required.

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