Royal wedding may bring big economic boost for UK
iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — The thrill of the impending royal wedding extends far beyond the United Kingdom, as travelers are eager to join in on the pomp and circumstance.
From themed flights and royal walking tours, the masses of tourists who are expected to make the trek to London and then Windsor Castle ahead of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding this weekend will give a boost to the British economy.
According to British-based strategic consulting company Brand Finance, the upcoming royal wedding could lead to a £300 million (roughly $405 million) increase in tourism.
The company also estimates that there would be hundreds of millions of pounds accrued through spending in restaurants, in fashion based on the clothes Markle wears to public events both before and after the wedding, as well as merchandise and overall public relations value for the country as a whole.
British Airways announced Tuesday that the airline’s regularly scheduled flight between London and Toronto (which, the airline points out, is “the city where their relationship took off” because Markle lived there while she worked on a television show at the time) on the wedding day will be staffed by a crew made up of two people named Harry, seven people named Megan and one person named Meghan.
The name-checking honors are not limited to staff, as any customer flying out of their main terminal hub in London’s Heathrow Airport on that day who is named Harry or Meghan will get to use the first-class lounge for free ahead of their flight.
And for those looking for a keepsake, famed British ceramics manufacturer Emma Bridgewater has a commemorative mug for sale, which extolls the betrothed as “game changers, free spirits, big hearts & well suited.”
While the whimsy of a royal wedding may seem like lighthearted fun, tourism is big business in the United Kingdom, which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
VisitBritain, the U.K.’s tourism board, reports that tourism accounts for £127 billion annually, or approximately $171.5 billion.
More than 100,000 people are expected to flock to Windsor for the wedding, according to the Thames Valley Police.
Airbnb, the home-share company, said that its hosts will be taking in an estimated 42,000 guests in London between Friday, May 18 and Sunday, May 20.
While the company did not provide the exact number of properties that will be taking in guests, the total host income from that period is expected to be more than $16.9 million.
Americans are the biggest population using the company to find their British digs, followed by visitors from France, Germany and Australia.
London isn’t the only beneficiary of the increased tourist traffic, however. Airbnb reports that the town of Slough, which is just a 10-minute drive from Windsor Castle, is seeing a 1,438 percent spike in guest arrivals over the wedding weekend, as are nearby Maidenhead, with a 362 percent increase, and Windsor itself, with 194 percent increase, as compared to the same time last year.
VisitBritain reports that their overall expectations for the year are up 4 percent as compared to 2017, which was a record-breaking year itself with 38.9 million visitors. The company expects 2018 to hit 41.7 million visitors.
While Harry and Meghan are the big draws this weekend, the monarchy always serves as a draw throughout the year. There were more than 10 million visits to a castle historic house in the U.K. in 2016 and those visits added up to more than roughly $10.8 billion, VisitBritain reports.
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