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Travel bookings to UK down 50%

By Sumant Banerji & Ruchi Ahuja in New Delhi
July 09, 2005 12:49 IST
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Travel bookings from India to the UK have dropped drastically following the serial bomb blasts in central London. The bookings today were only about half of the average 5,000 a day.

The travel trade also expects that over a longer period, the overall impact of Thursday's terror strikes will be a 20 to 25 per cent drop in the traffic from India to the UK.

Large multinational business process outsourcing companies with associates in London, within minutes of the bomb blast, had issued alerts that all non-critical travel to London must be cancelled and advised staff and clients not to use local transport in London for at least 24 hours. Many companies are also expected to make similar moves.

 "We have seen cancellations and people postponing visits. The rate of new bookings has gone down drastically,"  said Zakhir Ahmed, president, Travel Agents' Federation of India (Tafi).

The Travel Agents' Association of India (TAAI) is expecting the impact to last for about a month or so before travel between India and London normalises.

SPIC Travels Chairman Subash Goyal said, "We are witnessing a postponement of travel plans by 5-8 days in case of those travelling today or tomorrow. Otherwise, the bookings for London have remained unaffected."

Goyal agreed that there was widespread fear and that the people had become cautious. "Calls are being placed to London and prospective visitors are keenly watching the developments there." But he played down any recession in the outbound flow of tourists to England.

Airlines like British Airways and Jet Airways, that operate  in the sector, appear unruffled. "We are not seeing any impact so far. London is also coming back to normalcy," said an executive with British Airways.

The traffic between India and London has seen a surge in the recent past. As per the data with the civil aviation ministry, the traffic has surged to over 30 per cent between the two countries.

Large Indian information technology companies, which generate substantial revenue from the UK, said they were not affected in any way. "Most IT companies do not have offices in central London," said a spokesperson of a leading IT company in Bangalore.

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Sumant Banerji & Ruchi Ahuja in New Delhi

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