British PM David Cameron called the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton “unadulterated good news.” As Britain prepares for a second consecutive four- day weekend, business groups and economists beg to differ.
Federation of Small Businesses calculates the extra public holiday to mark the nuptials in London’s Westminster Abbey on April 29 may cost the economy as much as 6 billion pounds ($9.8 billion). That’s 10 times the 620 million pounds Verdict Research, a unit of Datamonitor Plc, estimates that sales of wedding memorabilia might add to the economy.
Many U.K. citizens are taking advantage of back-to-back four-day weekends to flee the U.K., just as foreign tourists roll into London for the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. Travel experts say the exodus is unprecedented for this time of year.
ABTA-The Travel Association estimates that about 3.5 million people—or about 5% of the U.K. population—are heading abroad. One tour operator, Thomas Cook, has added an extra 100,000 vacation packages to meet the demand.
Tourism chiefs predict an extra 600,000 tourists from home and abroad will flock to London to celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29, pushing the total number of visitors up to 1.1 million.
Those well-wishers are forecast to spend around £50 million (57 million euros, $82 million) on the day of the wedding, as they party in style on the streets of the capital.
"We are hoping that for years to come, tourists are going to come here off the back of the royal wedding and generate a real legacy for British tourism," said Mark Di-Toro, spokesman for national tourist authority VisitBritain
Cameron could use some royal-wedding relief to distract Britons from their economic woes. The government increased the sales tax this year and is cutting 310,000 public-sector jobs to shrink the budget deficit. Gross domestic product shrank 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter, and inflation is double the Bank of England’s target, eating away at savings and spending power.
A survey carried out by polling firm YouGov found 23% of respondents were planning to do just that. The poll, for travel retailer lastminute.com, said almost 23 million Britons—nearly half the adult population—would be sidestepping the royal celebrations to take advantage of the extra bank holiday.
As the Brits pour out, foreigners are flooding in. Expedia, the online travel firm, says bookings to London have more than tripled from last year during the period of the royal nuptials. The national carrier British Airways says it will transport more than 250,000 people into London this coming week ahead of the festivities.
The capital is expected to gain the biggest tourism boost but other associated regions could also benefit.
"London will be the main beneficiary from the royal wedding event with major tourist attractions -- ie. the British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, Natural History Museum and London Eye -- benefitting the most," Popova said.
"Tour operators in the city but also in the countryside are expected to see a growing interest from travellers.
"Special tours are already launched to the village of Bucklebury where Catherine Middleton was raised but equally, St Andrews University in Scotland, where the couple met, and Anglesey in North Wales, where they will live.
Use a customer-centric approach. Today’s consumers demand individualized interactions with brands, and they’re clamouring for messages that are relevant and personalized. In other words, you have to know what’s important to your customers and then incorporate that into your messaging and product offerings. For example, Celebrity Planet, a London-based tour operator, took the bull by the horns and launched a William and Kate tour, chronicling the young couple’s courtship. Likewise, restaurants are catering to their patrons’ fascination with all-things-Royal-Wedding, and many are planning a range of special events, from themed menus and free cake to special decorations and big screen tv coverage. Dunkin Donuts is caught up in the whirlwind, too, offering customers a rare culinary tribute: the Royal Wedding Donut. And even children can get in on the fun with these adorable “action figures” depicting William and Kate, the Queen, Prince Phillip, a Mounted Royal Guard, a foot soldier and a Corgi.
London is full of tourists for most of the year in any case, so this event won't make much of a difference to total tourist income."
But he conceded that it would provide a valuable advertising platform.
"This event can be seen as a type of advertising for the UK as a tourist destination -- if one considers all the pages of coverage in newspapers and magazines around the world, its value can be considered equivalent to the cost of renting all that newspaper and magazine space for adverts.
"From that perspective, its value is clearly quite high. But as with all forms of advertising, one can never be sure just how much extra revenue it brings.