KERALA

Tourists stranded and cashless

A foreign tourist who came all the way from Kovalam to the city to withdraw cash from an ATM near Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.— Photo S. Mahinsha

A foreign tourist who came all the way from Kovalam to the city to withdraw cash from an ATM near Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.— Photo S. Mahinsha  

The demonetisation of Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 denomination currency notes has upset holidayers and stake-holders of the burgeoning tourism industry in God’s Own Country that is gearing up for another peak tourist season.

Even after five days of demonetisation, tourists holidaying here are finding it difficult to exchange old currencies and get adequate cash from ATMs for their day-to-day expenses. The Free Independent Travellers (FIT) are the worst-hit and even on Sunday many were seen coming down from the famed beach resort of Kovalam to the capital to access the ATM to withdraw cash.

Foreign tourists landing at the two international airports in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi are also inconvenienced as foreign exchange counters have not been provided with adequate cash. Cancellation of domestic tours are high in hotels as no one wants to take risk, says a marketing official of a leading hotel in the capital. The small properties and those of the Tamarind brand of Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) are the worst-hit.

Shortage of lower denomination currencies is making it difficult for holidayers visiting zoo and other such places. They are not able to pay autorickshaw and taxi fares, and for local purchase in shops that do not have credit card facility.

Many hotels and tour operators are stepping in to provide assistance to tourists. The house boat operators in Alappuzha are cashing in on the opportunity and are accepting the old currency notes.

Hoteliers say they are finding it difficult to pay the balance in Indian currency to the foreign guests after settling the bills. “There is no clarity on guidelines and confusion prevails on exchange of foreign currency to tourists,” an official of a leading hotel said.

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