NEW YORK -- Despite the 10 terrorist train bombings that rocked
Madrid last week, Spain operator Skyline Travel said it planned to
go ahead with a scheduled group departure to the city on March 15.
Liberal Lopes, president of Skyline, said the Huntington,
N.Y.-based firm had not received any client requests for
cancellations, although some clients had called with questions
"I don't think [there's] any threat to tourists in the immediate
future," said Lopes, who sits on the board of the 21-member Spain
Tour Operators Association. "I fully understand that people might
be nervous ... but I don't think there's any chance of anything
[else happening] except, perhaps, the inconvenience of increased
security and interruptions in rail transportation."
At least 190 people died and about 1,200 more were injured when
10 bombs exploded on commuter trains and in three Madrid train
stations during the March 11 morning rush hour; local police later
found and defused three more bombs.
The Spanish government immediately placed the blame on Basque
separatist terror group ETA -- which had issued a communique last
month warning of a campaign against the country's tourism industry
-- but Basque nationalists denied the charge, and some speculated
the attacks could be the work of Al Qaeda or other terrorists.
Lopes said an ETA attack, being local in nature, would prove
less damaging to bookings from the U.S. than Al Qaeda activity.
"I have the impression that that [would] have less impact than
if this was exterior terrorist activity," he said. "This is a far
larger attack than ETA's ever done, but if I ventured to speculate,
I'd say the signs do point to ETA."
Spanish tourist board Turespana had not released an official
statement, but Julio Lopez, acting director, North America, at the
Tourist Office of Spain in Chicago, said, "Travel to Spain is still
no riskier than travel to anywhere else in the world."
Flights were operating into Madrid, and some trains were running
despite a police dragnet, dubbed "Operacion Jaula," or Operation
"Security measures in airports remain high as in the U.S., but
there probably will be more security measures in train and metro
stations," Lopez said.
Skyline clients, meanwhile, will make do, said Lopes. The group
had been scheduled to take a train from Madrid to Seville this week
but may instead have to be flown or bused between the cities.
To contact reporter Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].