Festival visitors find euro acceptable in 57% of firms

The massive influx of visitors attending the Edinburgh Festival has brought the issue of whether to modify IT systems to accept...

The massive influx of visitors attending the Edinburgh Festival has brought the issue of whether to modify IT systems to accept the euro to the fore again.

Some companies in the area have been reaping the benefits of preparing for the euro early, while others are refusing to accept the single currency on principle - a policy that has been criticised by local business leaders.

A recent survey from the Edinburgh and Lothians Tourist Board indicated that 57% of respondents - including retailers, visitor attractions and hotels - were able to accept the euro to help to cater for an influx of millions of tourists during Europe's largest theatre festival.

Retailers preparing IT systems for the euro could now provide valuable experience, should the UK eventually adopt the currency. A referendum on the subject is expected within two years.

Although some Edinburgh companies have been put off by the financial costs of updating IT systems for the euro, a number of smaller businesses have found ways around the problem, a tourist board spokeswoman said.

"We do appreciate that there are some financial costs involved in transacting in euros - replacing tills or reprinting price lists for instance - but every business is different and these costs can be avoided, particularly in smaller businesses," she said.

"Rosslyn Chapel, which accepts euros and makes each calculation on a manual basis, is a great example of how a flexible working approach can be achieved," the tourist board spokeswoman added.

A spokesman for Black Hart Storytellers, which conducts ghost tours around Edinburgh, said his company was quite willing to accept payment in euros but that no tourists had tried to pay with the currency so far.

Other Edinburgh businesses, such as Jenners department store, said they have no plans to change their IT systems to accept the euro.

"We have not noticed a significant demand from tourists wishing to spend euros in our store and we have no plans to upgrade our computer systems," Debbie West, marketing co-ordinator at Jenners, said.

Geoffrey Tailor's Kiltmakers and Weavers, which is based on the Royal Mile, said although the company has served a lot of tourists during the festival, the question of accepting euros "has not been much of an issue".

"We have been offered euros a few times but we did not accept them. We simply advised the customers on alternative forms of payments, such as credit cards," Caroline Hutchison, manager of the company said.

The kiltmaker has not lost any sales through its policy of not accepting the currency, she insisted.

Some national companies with outlets in Edinburgh, such as pub chain JD Wetherspoon, also have a policy of not accepting the euro.

"We are quite anti-euro as a company," said a JD Wetherspoon's spokesman. "We may lose a bit of money by refusing to accept the euro but we do not mind that as it is a matter of principle."

The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce criticised companies that were not accepting the euro, calling them "short-sighted".

Its chief executive, Bill Furness, said, "Both we and the local authority [City of Edinburgh Council] have been encouraging as many outlets as possible to accept euros, partly out of friendliness and partly because it's good business."

However, he admitted that the response so far has not been good and most of the official outlets for the festival were not accepting euro currency.

Ironically, Furness noted that when it came to accepting the new currency it was the smaller, go-ahead retailers such as local delicatessen Valvona & Crolla that were leading the way.

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