Tourists from India Count Cost as Rupee’s Slide Hits Holiday Cash

Indian tourists visiting the UAE are finding their wallets are considerably lighter than they may have expected following the rupee’s slump to an all-time low against the US dollar yesterday.

That could soon start costing the tourism and retail sectors if the currency’s weakness persists over the coming months, with India one of the UAE’s main source markets for tourists, industry insiders say.

“It’s costlier because the Indian rupee is down,” said Dr P Banerjee, a medic from Calcutta who is in Dubai on a three-day break. “I’m finding it pretty expensive.”

His rupee went further three years ago during his last visit to the emirate.

The rupee reached more than 52.70 yesterday against the dollar, to which the dirham is pegged, amid slowing growth in the Asian country and uncertainty in the global economy.

In the first quarter of the year, more tourists came to Dubai from India than any other country, including the UK. There was a 10 per cent increase on the same period last year to 186,478 hotel guests from India, according to figures from Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. But now that trade is being threatened by the country’s currency slide.

“If this keeps on continuing the way it is, then maybe yes you could expect a fall down after February or March, it could slow down,” said Ravinder Saini, the marketing manager at Lama Tours in Dubai, adding it would take three or four months for the impact to be felt. “All the people have already planned their travel and the groups are already in town. Maybe the shopping part of it is impacted.”

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