South Africans reinstating Mumbai holidaysNovember 29th, 2008 - 5:06 pm ICT by IANS
Johannesburg, Nov 29 (IANS) As the terror siege in Mumbai ended Saturday, scores of South Africans who had in the past few days cancelled their December holiday visits to the city, are beginning to reinstate their bookings. R.C. Naik, a leading travel agent in South Africa specialising in trips to India, said emotions had taken hold as global television networks provided non-stop coverage of the attacks, leading to a “significant” number of cancellations.
“But today (Saturday), as things begin to return to normal in Mumbai, many of them are arriving at our offices wanting to either reinstate their bookings or change to other venues in India,” Naik told IANS.
The Colaba area in Mumbai, adjacent to the Gateway of India, is a favourite haunt of South African visitors to India, especially those who shop there for Indian goods.
Hotels in Colaba, especially the cheaper ones that abound in the area, are usually full of South Africans during December as they take their annual family breaks during the six-week long school holidays here.
“My wife, sister-in-law and mother-in-law are still very scared to go to India, even though I assured them that these things happen all over the world and we should just put our trust in god and hope the authorities catch the culprits,” said Guru Pillay, who is due to leave for Mumbai next Friday with his extended family of eight.
“I have now arranged that we first go to Chennai, which was part of our three-week tour of India, to visit the temples there. Hopefully this will also calm the women enough before we reach Mumbai,” Pillay said.
The South African mission in Mumbai also reported that the South African tourists who are already in the country are largely continuing their visits, even though some had returned home.
“A group of young South Africans who were in Mumbai during the attacks, are continuing with their five-week tour of the country,” political vice-consul in the South African High Commission in Mumbai Rehaan Ebrahim told the Afrikaans daily Beeld here Saturday.
“Most South Africans here are doing the same. They realise that the attacks do not mean that India will now change from a friendly to a hostile country,” Ebrahim said.
The South African mission assisted 19 citizens, while another 50 had called in to confirm that they were safe. Some South Africans still remained unaccounted for and officials have also started visiting morgues to take fingerprints to ascertain whether they might be among the 152 people killed in the attacks.