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MUMBAI, INDIA-Terrorist attacks at hotels, like the Nov. 26 massacre that saw dozens of guests and staff killed here, are becoming more common, and may well have an impact on the expansion plans of major chains into foreign markets. Even during the down economy, Starwood, Hilton, Marriott and other chains have announced plans to add hundreds of new hotels in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. However, the stability of a region has been shown to impact new development plans, such as during troubles in Russia and with attacks at hotels in Islamabad, Pakistan; Bali; London and Madrid in recent years.

Even before the attacks, hotels overseas, especially in the Middle East, have been renovating to create barriers to attacks and beefing up security. Terrorism experts say hotels are a good target because they’re an easy way to find foreigners all in one public place. “In the Mumbai attack, the targets characteristics were sites popular to tourists and westerners, which indicate and reflect the global jihad ideology and operational mindset behind the attack to target foreigners and the economy,” said Jonathan Fighel, a senior researcher with the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, in a report published Friday.

Both the owners of the Oberoi and Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotels in Mumbai have reportedly said that they have tried to keep their properties secure, but that it’s hard to determine how an attacker could strike next. “The nature of the attacks was to indiscriminately take life in a number of publicly accessible places,” said Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Sons and Indian Hotels Co. Ltd., owner of the Taj Mahal, in a statement about the attacks on the company’s Web page. “Such a phenomenon of terrorism is a new-age crisis that has become a reality in many geographies of the world.”

Many hotel security experts believe that guests will be watched more thoroughly, and more checkpoints for safety will be used during check-in and stay at overseas hotels, possibly at the inconvenience of the guests. However, the companies are also learning how to have emergency reaction and response plans in place. Tata’s firm had on its Web site, within hours, a hotline for relatives to call to find out guest information, even before the hotel was cleared of terrorists. The helpline took more than 2,000 calls within its first 24 hours.

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