ASTA's India Chapter is seeking support for travel to India and has released the following statement:
“The past week has seen the world glued to their news, watching the horror that unfolded in Mumbai. What happened was a shame and a blot on humanity. If there was a color darker than black, we would use that to describe the situation. The attacks in Mumbai are unprecedented in the history of modern India. We cannot describe the disbelief, shock and sadness that every Indian feels today at these cowardly acts of aggression.
“We are however greatly encouraged by the overwhelming messages of support and comradeship that have poured in from all over the world, this time being no exception. The support expressed tells us that we all share in the pains and all understand the positions. The world has indeed changed and there is a greater understanding of the issues that haunt many a nation today.
“The siege on Mumbai's two hotels is now over. The clean-up process by the authorities is now underway. Our understanding is that the damage to the hotels has been substantial. The toll of the loss in lives is estimated to be at around 195 with injured in excess of 300.”
“Never has India experienced such a blatant attack on our guests to our country. We grew up on the philosophy that the "guest is god,' which makes us even more certain that these aggressors are culturally, and perhaps nationally, outsiders. India has battled with terrorism for many many years and has more than often asked the international community to pay head to the warnings of cross-border terrorism. Today, we pay the price for that absence of support.”
“We appeal to you to support us and stand by us in this time in need. When September 11 happened, the world stood by New York, when the bombings in London, Madrid, Bali and others took place, international governments and travel trade showed their support. We would hope that India will be treated no differently. To our partners all over the world, we need your support. The global economic meltdown was bad enough, but travel embargos on what is essentially a safe and stable country would have devastating effects and we can't afford to have that happen. We understand that guest safety comes above all else and at that will never be compromised. We do not mean to trivialize the situation, but one city and one situation does not make up for the rest of what is a very large country that is calm, stable and ready to greet our visitors.”
The full text of the letter from the Chapter can be found at www.astanet.org.