Tourists in India “Busking for Cash” due to Bank Note Restrictions
Tourists in India hit by currency crisis ‘forced to busk (BEG) for cash’
Hazel Plush, travel writer
29 November 2016 • 1:26pm
Tourists in Pushkar, India, have taken to busking as a means to raise money after the country’s shortage of banknotes rendered them “virtually penniless”.
The holidaymakers, who hail from Germany, Australia and France, told Hindustan Times that they were performing in the street to raise money “as a last resort” after the demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee (£6 and £12) notes left them struggling to buy even food and water.
In a bid to crack down on tax evasion and corruption, the Indian government announced earlier this month – with no warning – that 86 per cent of the country’s notes were no longer legal tender. The unexpected move triggered chaos, as thousands of people queued up to change their cash into smaller denominations and ATMs and banks ran out of cash.
The busking tourists played music and danced in the streets near Pushkar’s Brahma temple, holding signs that read ‘You can help us’ and ‘Money problem.’
“Locals have been kind to us. So far we have collected around Rs2600 [£30],” one of the German tourists told Hindustan Times. The travellers plan to use the money to travel to Delhi, where they will appeal to their government embassies for financial assistance.
“We came here on November 8 to see the famous Pushkar fair,” said Jayden from Australia. “The same night [the] government of India announced demonetisation of R500 and R1000 banknotes. Whatever change we had in Rs100 and lower denominations are exhausted.”
The holidaymakers told the newspaper that they had been unable change their defunct banknotes: “My friend and I stood outside an SBI bank and another friend stood outside an ATM for three hours but as soon as our turn came, the cash was exhausted,” said Adalene, a French tourist.
Telegraph Travel’s Digital Editor Oliver Smith, who visited Delhi and Rajasthan last week, experienced the currency panic first-hand. “The Foreign Office advises using credit and debit cards, which is fine at most hotels, but it’s impossible to eat out, visit the sights or take a tuktuk without a ready supply of cash,” he said.
“My girlfriend and I spent two hours on our first day queuing to use an ATM in Delhi. Tempers were frayed and some locals had to be calmed down by the security guards on duty. When we finally reached the front, both of our bank cards were declined! We then spent another hour queuing at a different bank to exchange around £100 of defunct currency – bought in the UK prior to the demonetisation – into acceptable denominations.