WTM: Hotels were unaware of London terror threat – 9 Nov 2006

Leading hotel groups have said they were unaware high-profile London properties were among the targets of Al-Qaeda terrorist Dhiren Barot.

The former Air Malta employee pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder thousands of people in a series of bomb attacks in London and the US and was sentenced to 40 years in prison at Woolwich Crown Court on Wednesday.

Among his targets were the Savoy, Berkeley, Dorchester and Hyatt in London. However, representatives from Hyatt and Starwood were unaware they had been potential targets. All the groups refused to comment about security or what impact this would have on their businesses.

PKF hotel consultant Robert Barnard said he was surprised hotels have not been targeted before. “Hotels take reasonable security steps behind the scenes but high-profile properties should consider metal detectors in the doors. This won’t deter business travellers, but it could have a major impact on UK families considering a visit to the capital.”

The hearing was under way during World Travel Market, where there were some dire warnings about the impact terrorism might have on the travel industry from US intelligence advisor Dr Marvin Cetron.

“Terrorism events will be more common – 9/11 was no more than a taste of things to come and a lot worse things are going to happen than what occurred in London’s underground. The war on terror looks likely to go on for decades,” he said.

Cetron said security alerts were not generally hyped and defended restr ictions imposed on hand luggage after the foiled bomb plot in August.

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