Bolt from the blue for foreign tourists

Many had to rely on travel agents to get the demonetised notes exchanged for legal tender

Published: 14th November 2016 12:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th November 2016 03:14 AM   |  A+A-

Bolt

People were seen exchanging their demonetised `500 and `1,000 notes at a bank after having stood for hours in long queues, in Bengaluru on Sunday | Pushkar V

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Demonetisation has of high-value currency notes come as a jolt to foreign tourists in the state.
Though currency exchange is taking place at the airport, this is facilitating only those arriving or departing. With little or no legal tender tourists in the city are struggling to get basic facilities. While most of them are taking the help of travel agencies, many complained that locals are exchanging their demonetised currency for lesser value.

“I had to do it because I did not have any other option,” said Thomas (name changed), a tourist from Brazil in Bengaluru. “My restaurant bill was `300. I handed him a `1,000 note, but he returned `200 and explained about the new currency. I did not protest because I was alone. I just took whatever he gave,” he said.
Faisal Baksh from Mysore Royal Walks, a travel agency in Mysuru, said a few travel agents are helping foreign tourists by accepting the demonetised currency. “It has become difficult for foreigners. My clients had come from Poland to see Mysuru Palace, only to be denied entry because they did not have the valid currency to buy tickets,” he said.

“Since they come on an itinerary, they do not stop or extend their plans. If they miss a place, that too for no fault of theirs, they will not visit the place again,” he said.
“We are accepting demonetised currency and giving them `100 notes and also helping them exchange currency since we go to banks regularly,” he added.

Bobby Robert from Scotland, who is in Mysuru for yoga classes, said, “I am here only for five days, of which one day was spent at the bank. On Wednesday, I woke up to this news and rushed to a bank. No details were available. So I went and stood in a queue. When I reached the counter, they told me that I was in the wrong queue. Then I went to the other line, stood in the queue for an hour only to find that the bank had run out of money. Later, I went to another private bank, the bank staff were helpful there.”

For Roberta Pennington, a Canadian who was holidaying in Bengaluru, the move was a nightmare. “On Tuesday, our hotel manager told us that banks and ATMs would be closed the next day. We panicked. Later, my travel agency helped me exchange currency. They did take some commission. But we had to do it because we had no option,” she said and added, “However, this helped me avoid thrift shopping as most small shops do not accept cards in and around Majestic area.”

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