Shops in South Queensferry are being forced to accept foreign currency from cruise ship passengers because the town’s only bank refuses to exchange currency.
Traders in the High Street said they were receiving no economic benefit despite the growing influx of visitors after the Clydesdale Bank branch declined to offer the service to non-customers.
Some of the world’s largest cruise companies, such as Cunard, Royal Caribbean and MSC, stop at Hound Point, next to South Queensferry.
Around 50,000 passengers from 21 vessels are expected to dock in the town over the next six months.
Both South Queensferry and Rosyth in Fife are being increasingly used as docking points to reach Edinburgh, with the biggest liners too big to dock at Leith.
Diane Brown, project manager of business improvement group Queensferry Ambition, said the organisation had been left bewildered by the bank’s decision. She said a majority of outlets were going as far as accepting one euro as the equivalent of £1 in a desperate bid to cash in on tourists.
“The Clydesdale Bank are quite reluctant to provide any kind of exchange,” she said.
“We had hoped ideally to get some kind of exchange presence down at the pier when the ships come in. We had a brief conversation with the bank about that and they were absolutely having none of it. They said it was quite a lot of work and administration for them.”
The only exchange service in the town is offered by its post office, which is away from the main street and inside a branch of a grocery chain.
Ms Brown said: “We’re just encouraging the businesses to take the dollars and euros and they can change them.
“We’re just working to make it a better welcome and for businesses to be a bit more ready for the cruise liner visits.”
Marie Munday, owner of South Queensferry boutique store Maisie’s, said she would have been turning away business if she had not decided to accept foreign currency.
She said: “Quite often on cruise ship liner days we’re actually quieter. A lot of the people who go away on day trips don’t actually know there’s a town there. Often the local people who would normally come down stay away because there’s no parking. All the parking we have is taken up by the cruise liner coaches.
“It’s quite detrimental to our businesses instead of benefiting us. We should have potentially 600 or 700 customers off cruise liners who don’t actually go on trips, but we’re just not capturing that business.”
Clydesdale Bank said it had not offered a currency exchange service for non-bank customers for more than ten years.
A spokeswoman said: “While customers can purchase foreign currency at any of our branches, we don’t offer a currency service for non-bank customers.”
Convener of the Economy Committee, Councillor Frank Ross, said: “We support the positive work of Queensferry Ambition BID to drive further footfall from the cruise liners into the town and maximise the economic impact. I am pleased to learn that businesses in the town are geared up to take dollars and euros to allow tourists to purchase souvenirs.”