Compiling list of safe hotels for visitors to India

January 26th, 2009 - 11:11 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 26 (IANS) Not taking any chances after the 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai, multinational companies, embassies and UN bodies are independently reviewing security of luxury hotels before making reservations for their high-profile clients in India.Security experts posted in embassies here and UN organisations are preparing similar reports to ensure maximum safety of their officials and guests.

“After the attack, especially on Trident and Taj hotels, many representatives, especially from Bangalore, came to check our security measures. Not just them but even officials from the US embassy, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other multilateral bodies conducted a similar survey in our hotel,” said Akhil Mathur, spokesman of the Le Meridien hotel here.

“Many were concerned about exit routes in the event of an emergency and of the safety measures in place for guests in the hotel. Since we have paid enough attention and tightened our security further, they were pleased,” Mathur added.

Industry and intelligence sources told IANS that this is the first time that security heads and representatives of various multinational organisations have undertaken such a task of preparing independent reports detailing “secure” and “safe” hotels across the country.

“One of the reasons why some high-profile guests or VIPs do not stay in the Oberoi or The Lalit is because their escape routes are not satisfactory. There is a flyover across the road which many consider an impediment in the event of an emergency,” said a top hotelier.

Work is under way to prepare a list of luxury hotels where top corporate honchos who often travel to India for business meetings can be put up without risk to their lives.

“We took this painstaking exercise in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attack,” a security head of an international bank, which has 3,000 employees on its rolls, told IANS.

“Fortunately our board of directors and senior management had left the Taj and the Oberoi hotels just minutes before the militants stormed the hotels and began firing indiscriminately.”

On Nov 26, a 10-member suicide squad, allegedly belonging to the Lashker-e-Taiba, attacked the Taj Mahal Hotel near the landmark Gateway of India and the nearby Oberoi-Trident hotel among a host of other spots in south Mumbai.

At least 170 people, including 22 foreigners were killed. The hotels suffered extensive damage.

“Foreigners were obviously scared after the attacks. Some visiting India have gone the extra mile to do reconnaissance missions of hotels for sheer safety,” said a UN official.

One particular security head working in an MNC, who did not wanted to be named, said he had personally visited and reviewed security of at least 40 hotels all across the country.

“During my visits, I checked their contingency plans and level of alertness. To my satisfaction I found each and every hotel either had hired security consultants or were in the process of hiring them.”

Many hotels in the country are spending huge amounts to install state-of-the-art gadgets and hi-tech equipment for ramping up security in their premises.

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