Mumbai calling: Gateway-of-India
FOREIGN travellers and business people say they will not be put off coming to India's most vibrant and cosmopolitan city by murderous militant attacks that brought Mumbai to a standstill last week.
As the teeming commercial centre recovered, foreign travellers were still arriving from abroad and elsewhere in India, many saying that violent incidents were nothing new to the country.
Foreign business people said while the global economic slowdown was already being felt in Mumbai, the city would continue to offer huge opportunities as it lived up to its reputation as the "Manhattan of the East "India is now part of the world, its economy is growing and nothing can stop the process of integration and globalisation," said Swati Hirey, who advises multinational corporations on recruitment.
"Whatever bad happens here is now bad for everyone, so whatever impact there is, in terms of keeping foreigners away or frightening some into leaving, will be very short-term," she said.
"The economy is growing and people want to get on with doing business."
She said she doubted foreign companies would have difficulty in the near future attracting employees from abroad to Mumbai, where many multinationals, including banks and insurance companies, have offices.
Militant gunmen launched coordinated attacks on a dozen locations around the city last Wednesday (November 26), taking hundreds of hostages and holding security forces at bay for more than 60 hours until early Saturday (November 29).
Officials put the death toll at 188, including around 30 foreigners, with up to 300 people injured.
Even as many countries, including Britain and the US whose nationals were targeted by the attackers, issued travel warnings, business people, consultants and tourists in Mumbai were confident all was returning to normal.
British risk consultant Richard Dailly said a frisson of fear would deter some people from traveling to India - but he stressed only a few.
"Some people might be put off coming here but they shouldn't be," said the Mumbai resident.
"It is, tragically, the same as London, Istanbul, Madrid, New York and Bali - life goes on, business carries on and India offers massive opportunities.
"It is developing very fast, it is very hospitable and it is potentially one of the biggest markets in the world.
"If people just based their views on what they have seen in the popular press, that would be belittling the truth. Other cities have had similar experiences and come back, and there is no reason why it should effect Bombay any more than them," he said.
In the bustling Colaba Causeway shopping precinct, foreign tourists said they were not deterred from traveling to or around India, noting the attacks, while shocking, were not unique.
Last year nearly two million international tourists made trips to Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, the tourism ministry said.
Australian nurse William Arthur, 59, said common sense was essential when traveling anywhere, and that he "had absolutely no qualms" about coming to Mumbai on Saturday (November 29).
"I travel in India a lot and there are always these sorts of terrorist attacks going on," he said as he haggled for a hat on a street side stall.
"I'm very anti-terrorism and I'm not going to let them win. The motive of terrorism is to make us stay at home terrorised.
"I saw the Taj, I walked past Leopold's a week ago when it thriving," he said, referring to two of last week's targets, the Taj Mahal hotel and Leopold's cafe, a popular tourist venue.
"I don't go to these places because I feel they are soft targets. I'm the sort who gets on a train and checks under the seat for a bag that's been left there."
A French retail consultant, who asked not to be named, said there had been "some kind of panic among businessmen" as the hostage drama unfolded.
But she added: "I didn't expect (Mumbai) to recover so quickly, I thought it would be very bad, but things are already back to the way they were before.
"The truth is that Mumbai is still the economic capital, people still want to come to do business with India, and that will not change."
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