Thursday, November 24, 2016

Tourists struggle as airport forex counters run dry

Tourists arriving in India with foreign exchange find themselves stuck as money changers do not have enough rupees to go around. Airport counters, which are the only dealers allowed to withdraw the Rupee, are drying up before the day is out and money changers outside are not being provided any cash.
Unlike in the past when less than 5% of incoming tourists sought to exchange foreign currency at airport counters because of the high mark up, after demonetisation most foreigners are queueing up at the airport itself as only these counters are currently provided legal tender by banks. But even this is less than 50% of the demand from tourists. Particularly hard hit are budget tourists, who are more cash dependent. For instance, Goa last weekend saw the arrival of 16 chartered flights even as currency counters went dry.
"We are mandated to exchange currency notes at the airport counters based on which banks release funds. Our branches are able to service customers only to the extent of Indian currency notes that we receive by selling foreign exchange," said Madhavan Menon, managing director, Thomas Cook, a popular money changing destination among tourists. Thomas Cook sells the rupees that it has earned through forex sales only to foreigners, but that is not enough.
23/11/16 Mayur Shetty/The Times Of India
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