Denied access to online bank accounts, Russian tourists in Kerala feel the pinch – The New Indian Express

Express press service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Russia’s ousting from the global banking payment system, SWIFT, has also caused unexpected casualties in Kerala, as around 100 Russian tourists in Kovalam suddenly found themselves in a place where access to their bank accounts was refuse. However, the Russian authorities asked them to apply for a new credit card as a crisis management solution.

Russia was cut off from the Belgian Company for Global Interbank Financial Telecommunications following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Many small groups of Russian tourists, who started their vacations in India before the war started, are now in Kovalam and Varkala. They are worried. “My visa expires on March 5. I haven’t been able to do online banking since Sunday. I have little money left on hand,” said a 40-year-old Russian tourist.

A senior official working at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tirunelveli, TN also confirmed that he was unable to manage his salary account. He too was advised to change banks and open a new account online. Russian couple Daniel and Anaya, both engineers from St. Petersburg, shared their apprehension. “We arrived in India almost two months ago. Our families are nervous,” Daniel said.

As airlines cancel tickets, Russians approach tour operators for help

A tour operator in Kovalam told TNIE that Russian tourists approached him to find a solution. “The flight tickets of the majority of them were canceled by their respective airlines and the flight ticket was credited to their bank accounts. The inability to access the bank account added to their misery.

But the Russian contact points asked them to apply for a new credit card online as a solution,” he said. The Russian Honorary Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram has been inundated with requests from tourists. Meanwhile, the Regional Foreign Information Office (FRRO) in Thiruvananthapuram has taken steps to issue a permit as the validity of the visa of Ukrainian tourist Mariya Semenyuk — currently stuck in Kovalam — has expired. and that of many more Russian tourists in the coming days.

But the decision to charge $100 per visa renewal has drawn criticism. “Even during the pandemic, tourists stranded in Thiruvananthapuram could get the permit for free. Now there is no more theft and a war is going on. Yet the FRRO has shown no mercy to tourists, even when they face financial hardship,” a tourism industry source told TNIE.

Shawanda H. Saldana