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Edinburgh

Money & costs

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Economy

Edinburgh's economy today is overwhelmingly based on the service sector, which accounts for some 90% of the city's employment, mainly in the fields of finance and tourism; in both sectors Edinburgh is second only to London. The Royal Bank of Scotland, HBOS (created in 2001 from the merger of the Bank of Scotland with the Halifax building society) and several other major financial institutions have their headquarters in the city, with many financial offices clustered in the new Exchange district on the west side of Lothian Rd. The Royal Bank has recently moved into a huge, purpose-built complex at Gogarburn, near Edinburgh Airport.

Other important service sectors include retail, education, law, local government and health. The city's growth areas are in research, information technology, computer software and biotechnology, with many businesses located in new industrial parks in the west of the city.

The traditional industries of Edinburgh's past - brewing, biscuit-making, publishing and printing - linger on in much reduced form. The international brewing company Scottish & Newcastle still has its corporate HQ in the city, but only a single brewery now survives (there were once 40), while publishing and printing also continue on a smaller scale.

The city's economy received a major boost with the creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. New building and redevelopment projects are taking shape all over the city and the unemployment rate (around 2%) is below the UK average.

As a visitor to the city, expect to pay around £60 to £100 a night for a double room in an attractive, central hotel, and budget around £15 a head for lunch and £25 for dinner if you plan to sample the best of Edinburgh's restaurants. Rates in both hotels and backpacker hostels can rise by up to 25% during the festival periods in August and at New Year.

Most of the city's art galleries and museums have free admission, and you can save on restaurant bills by looking for business-lunch deals and reduced-price pre- and post-theatre menus.

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Money

The UK currency is the pound sterling (£), with 100 pence (p) to a pound. 'Quid' is a slang term for pound.

Several Scottish banks issue their own bank notes. You shouldn't have trouble using them in shops etc in the north of England and in Northern Ireland, but elsewhere they may be refused. Although all UK banks will accept them, foreign banks generally do not.

Euros are accepted in Scotland only at some major tourist attractions and a few upmarket hotels - it's always better to have cash in sterling.

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Changing money

You can change currency and travellers cheques at exchange counters (known by the French term 'bureau de change') scattered throughout the city centre, and in banks, post offices and travel agencies. Banks generally offer the best rates. Be careful using bureaux de change; they may offer good exchange rates but frequently levy outrageous commissions and fees.

American Express (718 2501; 69 George St; 9am-5.30pm Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm Sat)

Bank of Scotland (465 3900; 38 St Andrew Sq; 9am-5pm Mon-Fri, 10am-2pm Sat)

Fexco (557 3953; ESIC, Princes Mall, 3 Princes St; as for ESIC)

Royal Bank of Scotland (556 8555; 36 St Andrew Sq; 9.15am-4.45pm Mon, Tue, Thu & Fri, 10am-4.45pm Wed, 10am-2pm Sat)

Thomas Cook (226 5500; 52 Hanover St; 9am-5.30pm Mon, Tue & Thu-Sat, 10am-5.30pm Wed)

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Credit cards

Visa, MasterCard, Amex and Diners Club cards are widely accepted, although some places make a charge for using them (generally for small transactions). Charge cards such as Amex and Diners Club may not be accepted in smaller establishments; credit and debit cards like Visa and MasterCard are more widely accepted.

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Travellers cheques

Amex or Thomas Cook cheques are widely accepted in exchange for cash in banks, but (unlike in the US) you can't use them over the counter in shops and restaurants. Bring sterling cheques to avoid changing currencies twice, and take most cheques in large denominations; commission is usually charged per cheque.

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