Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Euros are OK with Emilio's

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

With a steady influx of foreign visitors swinging through Santa Barbara due to favorable monetary exchange rates, one local business is hoping to capitalize on the tourism bump by allowing customers to pay with euros.
Michael de Paola, the owner of Emilio’s Ristorante and Bar de Isabella, said the restaurant is squaring away a few final fiscal details, but should begin accepting the standard European currency by next week.

“They’ve been coming strong,” he said of foreign tourists. “They’re definitely keeping our numbers up for the summer and helping us out.”
While nobody has attempted to pay their bill with euros just yet, De Paola said he has hopes the strategy will bring more folks from other countries into his establishment on West Cabrillo Boulevard.
“It’s a helluva bargain over here for them,” he said.
One euro currently shakes out to approximately $1.50, according to yesterday’s exchange rate, and officials said the impact of a weakened American dollar is clearly reflected in international tourism figures.
In May of this year, 4.3 million international visitors traveled to the United States, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Commerce. That represents an increase of 14 percent over the same month last year.
Spending by foreign tourists jumped to a record $11.8 billion in May as well, up more than 20 percent from May 2007.
While local tourism officials don’t put together formal figures, informal polling suggests international tourists are increasingly choosing Santa Barbara as a vacation destination.
“We started noticing it in the spring, as early as April,” said Shannon Brooks, the communications director for the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission.
Anecdotal information from hotel owners partly backs that observation, she said, but also just taking a stroll down State Street reveals a medley of languages in use.
“It’s been a huge trend across the board,” she said.
Although she hasn’t heard of any businesses accepting euros as a form of payment, Brooks said that move makes sense in terms of attracting more foreign visitors.
“They tend to stay longer and spend more,” she said. “It’s good for the economy, especially when domestic travel is down.”
De Paola said he frequently overhears customers speaking French, Austrian, German, Italian and a mix of other languages as they dine at his restaurant. When he first opened the eatery in 1990, he said a similar influx of international visitors kept his staff busy.
“It’s the same flow that’s coming in now,” he said.
He plans to print out exchange rates from the Internet daily to offer a fair rate for customers who want to use euros.
De Paola also plans to get the word out that his restaurant accepts the European currency, by advertising and posting flyers in hotels.
“We’ll spark a bit of interest,” he predicted.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Uhm, does "Austrian" sound like German? (see last paragraph)
Yes? Maybe because they're the same language?
Nice :)

Gary said...

Next this guy will be accepting pigs or chickens as payment. What is wrong here ?

Milton said...

If our whole economy were based on Euros as the currency we would be far more prosperous with far less inflation, especially in petrol.