American tourist Rhett arrived with his friends in Delhi on November 8 to “experience India” but instead he was left with a wad of obsolete domestic currency notes that disrupted his travel plans in the country.
“We arrived here last Tuesday and got our dollars converted to Indian currency but later we realised that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were not being accepted. Our hotel did not accept the big notes, and neither did currency exchangers. We were left a harried lot,” he told PTI.
Rhett, who is leaving India in few days, says, “We had so many plans, but all got thwarted.” “However, we gave away the big Indian notes at an Indian wedding that we attended,” he said with a smile.
Taking the nation by surprise, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the night of November 8 announced demonetisation of high-value notes with effect from midnight, in what he said was a major assault on black money, fake currency and corruption.
Scores of foreign tourists, who are in India, shared the problems they are facing in the wake of the major economic move that has left the country grappling with a cash crisis.
Patricia Hames from Bristol, the UK, who is visiting Delhi for the first time along with her two sisters-in-law, is running short of cash, and finding it hard to get taxis or make purchases at shops.
“We are making do with credit cards as much as we can. But, getting a small thing like a cup of coffee or buying a small decorative or handicraft item from a local market is becoming a hassle.
“I know we can pay through cards at Starbucks and other jazzy shops, but we didn’t come her to experience what we already have in England. We wanted to experience the raw India and plastic money is not the way to that,” she rued.
“Last time, I had come to Goa, and we had such a fabulous experience. We came this year to experience India, but this India has changed a lot,” she said.
Besides, accessing short-distance transport services, foreign tourists are also finding it hard to visit monuments, or withdraw money from the ATMs with the long queues becoming a major deterrent for them.
Brazilian Octavio Franco who is travelling to India with his mother, says, “The ‘cambistas’ (money exchangers) are out of cash and queues at ATMs are very long. In our country, it is very easy to withdraw money but after this demonetisation move, it has caused a lot of problem for us.”
“We were in Agra recently, and we could not get proper currency to pay for the ticket fee for seeing Taj Mahal. So, after trying in vain with regular routes, we got our foreign notes exchanged through touts in the streets, suffering a bit of financial loss,” Franco said.