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Tuesday, 1 January, 2002, 11:26 GMT
Business prepares to welcome euro
Euro coins
The euro is now the currency in twelve countries
As most of Europe begins life with the Euro, many businesses in Wales will be accepting the new notes and coins.

As 12 countries begin dealing in the currency on New Year's Day, Wales's tourism industry is most likely to be affected.

Europe Minister Peter Hain
Europe Minister Peter Hain: Historic event
From Tuesday 300 million people around Europe are using the single currency but Britain has still to decide whether to join.

However, hotels and visitor attractions in Wales have been preparing to ring the changes.

In 2002 it is estimated that half a million "eurozone" visitors will come to Wales and the government and tourist authorities have been urging businesses to get to grips with the currency.

Many major retailers have already announced they will accept the new currency, great news for foreign visitors who want to splash out.

Among them is the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay which has taken note of the great euro switchover.

It has spent the last few months readying its staff to recognise and accept the currency, although visitors will be given their change in sterling.

The Merlin pub in Pontypridd will be accepting Euro notes.

The pub, opposite Pontypridd RFC, expects to be welcoming Irish and fans of other European clubs in future matches, as well as foreign students at the nearby University of Glamorgan

Europe Minister - and MP for Neath - Peter Hain has welcomed the moves:

"The launch of euro notes and coins today is an historic event," he said.

The euro has become a reality for 300m people across Europe - from France to Finland and from Italy to Ireland.

Welsh Mountain Zoo
Zoo workers have been trained in the euro
"In or out of the euro, it will affect Britain. About 40 million Britons who will travel to Europe this year on holiday and business will feel, use and touch the new currency.

"They should familiarise themselves with its denominations and security features.

Mr Hain also urged people to hunt out any old currency and exchange them for pounds or euros as soon as possible.

Mr Hain also said the changeover was a "massive logistical challenge."

"Laid end to end, euro notes would stretch to the moon five times. The coins weigh as much as 24 Eiffel towers. So some hitches are inevitable."

But he added that a successful changeover was in Britain's interest because half its trade was with Europe, and more than three million jobs were in companies which do business in Europe.

See also:

31 Dec 01 | Business
Europe hails 'historic' euro
20 Dec 01 | Europe
Euro chaos threatens France
14 Dec 01 | Business
Paris rush for euro-starter kits
29 Dec 01 | Europe
Mini-states gear up for euro
30 Dec 01 | Europe
Lira noughts will be missed
31 Dec 01 | Business
Q&A: Euro cash launch
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