According to figures from VisitBritain, events and history associated with monarchy currently generates well over £500m in revenue for the British tourism industry, a figure that is expected to soar in the year of a royal wedding.
The combination of the event alongside the Queen’s Jubilee and 2012 Olympic Games is expected to create a lasting legacy for tourism to Britain, at a time when operators are struggling through economic uncertainty.
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said: “We don’t know many details at the moment, but there’s no doubt that it will hugely raise the profile of Britain on the international stage in the year before the Olympic Games. And to have a new royal couple will leave a lasting legacy. It’s very good news.”
Royal wedding vs. Olympics
Cultural commentator Cristina Odone said she expected the wedding to be even more successful than the Olympics at driving tourism to the UK, and that the event will reignite the world’s interest in our country’s history and culture.
“At stake is this understanding of Britain as a royal entity, a kingdom. And it is not only the way that Britons perceive themselves, but the way the outside world continues to see Britain as the place where these spectacles take place,” she said.
“This is a very important commercial proposition. Tourists from all over the world will be pouring in here.
“Forget the Olympics, this is going to be the big thing.”
Charles & Diana
The last ‘big’ British royal wedding was that of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in July 1981, when the country was at the worst point of a global economic recession.
Tourism figures for the month show a 16 per cent decline on the same period in 1980, while inbound tourism fell by 8 per cent for the year as a whole.
“The reasons for this are many and varied – primarily though figures were driven down by the fact that it was at the worst point of a global economic recession,” said Mark di-Toro, spokesperson for VisitBritain.
“These figures aren’t really comparable to what we can expect to see from William and Kate’s wedding next year as it was a different age. The figures were lower than usual but Britain still felt the need to celebrate.”
A date is still yet to be set for the wedding next year, with likely locations being Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral or Windsor Castle.