India’s Tourism Minister Disputes Travel Warnings

Posted October 25th, 2011 at 7:05 am (UTC-5)
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India's tourism minister is disputing the decision of five Western countries to issue recent travel advisories that warn of possible terrorist attacks during the upcoming Indian holiday season.

The United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have all warned their citizens to take extra precaution during the festival period.

Tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahay on Tuesday dismissed the move as “nothing but scaremongering” in comments to The Times of India, saying he has recommended that India's external affairs ministry work with the countries to withdraw their advisories.

Officials are worried the warnings may impact tourism during the winter months – India's peak season for foreign tourists and business delegations.

Diwali, known as the “festival of lights,” will be celebrated in India on Wednesday. Several other Hindu, Islamic and secular holidays also fall between now and January.

In a travel alert issued last week, the U.S. State Department warned U.S. citizens of the possibility of terrorist attacks throughout India, noting that recent attacks have targeted hotels and other public spaces.

In 2008, a group of young Pakistanis in Mumbai attacked luxury hotels, a Jewish center and a busy train station in India's financial capital, killing 166 people.

More recently, militants attacked the High Court building in New Delhi in September, killing at least 11 people and injuring around 76 others.