Delegates at the PATA Travel Mart 2011 remain unshaken by fatal bomb attack that struck New Delhi this morning, and the event has continued without disruption. Speaking to Travel Daily today, PATA’s interim CEO, Bill Calderwood said that the show did not appear to have been affected by the incident, despite the fact that the blast occurred just a few streets away from Pragati Maidan venue.
“We’re in conversation with local authorities, and it appears that the bomb was due to a legal dispute rather than the act of a terrorist group,” Calderwood said. “The safety and security of our delegates is obviously our main priority. But we’re under a state of heightened security in Delhi now, so if anything our delegates can feel safer,” he added.
News of the bomb started filtering into the event this morning, at around the same time Calderwood was walking the show floor with the Secretary of India’s Ministry of Tourism, Sri Rajen Habib Khwaja and other dignitaries. It has since emerged that 10 people lost their lives and that a further 47 were injured by a bomb, which was left in a briefcase outside New Delhi’s High Court.
But despite the close proximity of the blast, delegates appeared unperturbed. Silversea’s Regional Director for Asia, Melvyn Yap told Travel Daily that none of his pre-scheduled appointments had cancelled – a view echoed by many other exhibitors. “It seems fine,” said Yap. “The event seems full and everyone is just getting on with it. It’s just business as usual.”
Calderwood revealed yesterday 302 buyers are in attendance from 279 organisations in 50 countries, to meet with 625 sellers from 288 organisations in 30 destinations. In addition 135 members of the media from 15 countries are reporting on the event. Speaking to the press, Calderwood said that India has become an “irresistible” force in the global tourism market. This was backed up by Sri Rajen Habib Khwaja, who also acts as Chairman of PATA’ India Chapter, who added that the country has “enviable” tourism opportunities, and that there is high potential among its niche market segments, such as spiritual and adventure tourism.
Certainly India’s resilience to events such as today’s bomb blast appears to be having a positive impact in the wake of the bombing. Whether or not the bomb blast was an act of terrorism, there are certainly no signs of terror among delegates of the PATA Travel Mart.