Many of the Britons arriving in the Balearics for their annual holidays in the sun are about to have their first close encounter with the euro. Ironically, the strength of the single currency will make a meal in the local bars and restaurants more expensive than they bargained for. But pro-single currency campaigners in the UK are hoping that paying for their sangria with euros will help familiarise them with the new notes and coins, making the notion of ditching the pound more easy to swallow. “(The holidaymakers) will see that the Spanish are no less Spanish for being inside the euro and we hope that they will begin to wonder why Britain has not chosen to be part of the common currency,” said Simon Buckby, Campaign Director of Britain in Europe. The key problem for the government, however, is that Britons remain hostile to the idea of scrapping the ancient pound. For travellers, though, the benefits are obvious, such as the savings made from only paying one exchange fee to a bureau de change. One couple, asked if Britain should join the euro, replied: “Yes, it's inevitable. We should have it.” On their way to Spain, they enthused about the convenience of a single currency: “We are passing through Paris and changing stations, and all we have to worry about is euros.” “I think people will get used to using it when they are abroad.” According to data from the National Office of Statistics, by the end of May Britons had made over 16 million trips to Western Europe since the single currency was introduced in January, accounting for 77 percent of all visits abroad. With the summer holiday season in full swing, the numbers are rising fast. However, the actual number of visitors is much lower, as many travel frequently, for example on business. A large percentage of Britain's 59.8 million inhabitants take their holidays at home, if at all. Data suggests that looking to travellers to support the euro is akin to preaching to the converted. A recent ICM survey showed that those who go to Europe are already likely to be pro-euro. People who were not planning to visit Europe in the next six months -- over half of those polled - were the most sceptical, with 62 percent against the euro and only 22 percent for it. The travellers were more positive, although even here most, 47 percent, were against the euro, with 41 percent for. The vast majority retained their views even after visiting the continent. Also, many British retail chains accept euros at least in some branches, even if few advertise the fact. But the service hasn't proved very popular. The latest NOP poll in June showed that 49 percent would vote against the euro in a referendum, with only 36 percent for. And in a survey of 1'000 customers of Saga holidays, which caters for the older British traveller, 73 percent said euros were at least as easy to use as the old currencies.


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