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Monday, 8 July, 2002, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
Euro move splits eisteddfod town
Llangollen
Llangollen is ready to welcome Eisteddfod competitors

The European flags flutter in the summer breeze and signs declaring Llangollen the UK's first official eurozone feature in a number of shops, bars and restaurants.

In fact, overseas visitors and competitors from across Europe arriving in the town could be forgiven for thinking they have not travelled abroad at all.

Richard Lucas, shopkeeper
Richard Lucas is in favour of the euro

The small market town in north east Wales has been gearing up for the start of the 56th annual International Musical Eisteddfod.

The festival has become known for its international flavour, but this year even the money will be European.

For the first time since the festival began in 1947, many retailers will accept foreign currency along with the British pound.

Euros will keep the cash registers flowing after politicians and local traders decided to accept the money freely.

Many of the 100,000 visitors to the colourful event are expected to pay for goods the European way.

One visitor, Amanda Keow from Northern Ireland, said she wished she had known about the scheme sooner.

"I really think accepting euros is the way everything's heading, it makes life a lot simpler.


The vast majority of my customers are adamant that they do no want the euro at all, never mind for a week

Peter Longlands, shopkeeper

"We were all running around before we came away to try and get Bank of England notes gathered up and you're only going across to Wales.

"If we'd have known we could have just got euros," she added.

Although many competitors will not arrive until Monday evening, there is air of anticipation around the streets of Llangollen.

Many traders feel accepting euros will help visitors enjoy their stay in Wales.

Richard Lucas, co-proprietor of West Coast Trader Company in Llangollen, said he has already accepted the currency.

"We started accepting the currency four to five weeks ago in response to customer demand.

Eurozone condemned

"We thought the euro scheme for eisteddfod week was a brilliant piece of marketing."

Mr Lucas said the scheme has proved popular.

"We know that we have foreign visitors here and they have euros in their pocket and some of them went to spend euros."

Before the festival got under way some fears had been expressed that tills would not be able to cope with two separate currencies.

However, a number of stores and bars have installed converters on their cash machines to ensure people get the right amount of change.

But not everyone is in favour of the move towards the euro.

Euro sign
Many shops will accept euros

Among them is Peter Longlands who owns a budget store in the town.

"The vast majority of my customers are adamant that they do no want the euro at all, never mind for a week," he said.

"It's a terrible system to use because the value of items I sell are fairly low, so to go into a conversion is difficult and I get busy.

"To convert the till would be costly - I'm not geared up to check the exchange rate every day.

"I sell things from 10p upwards so the profit is very low and I could lose this profit in the exchange rate."


More news from north east Wales
See also:

08 Jul 02 | Wales
13 May 02 | Wales
20 May 02 | Wales
12 Jun 02 | Wales
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