How the mighty dollar has fallen

NEW DELHI - In a sign of how the once mighty US dollar has fallen, India's tourism minister said yesterday that US dollars will no longer be accepted at the country's heritage tourist sites, like the famed Taj Mahal.

NEW DELHI - In a sign of how the once mighty US dollar has fallen, India's tourism minister said yesterday that US dollars will no longer be accepted at the country's heritage tourist sites, like the famed Taj Mahal.

For years the dollar was worth about 50 rupees and tourists visiting most sites in India were charged either US$5 or 250 rupees.

But with the dollar at a nine-year low against the rupee - falling 11 percent in 2007 alone and now hovering at around 39 rupees - that deal has become a losing proposition for the tourism industry.

The country's tourism minister said, though, that the decision was only in part a reaction to the currency's plunging value.

"Before the dollar lost its value, there was a demand to have (admission tickets) just in rupees," minister Ambika Soni told the CNN-IBN news channel.

Soni said that charging only rupees would not only be more practical, but would save money because "the dollar was weaker against the rupee."

The Taj Mahal, India's famed white marble monument to love, which had charged tourists US$15 or 750 rupees, has been refusing to accept dollars since November.

The move makes visits pricier for American tourists. - Sapa-AP

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