Posted on: 16-05-2018 in Finance
Prince Harry’s international popularity, and Meghan Markle’s global fame as an actress, are an exciting combination for the British tourist industry which is anticipating a big increase in American tourists. The UK has already seen a 17% increase in American visitors over the last 12 months, thought to be the result of the weakened pound against the dollar, so with the added attraction of an American princess it is hoped that more Americans will make their way across the Pond. Americans are the UK’s biggest spending overseas group according to Visit Britain. The UK is expecting around 50,000 visitors from the US to join the crowds in the capital to celebrate and enjoy the atmosphere for the Royal wedding weekend.
Locals cashing in….
The popularity of Airbnb means that regular residents can cash in on the influx of tourists as well as the bigger hotels and businesses. Airbnb has said that around 42,000 guests are expected in London alone, generating rental income of £12 million. Residents in Windsor, London (the ancestral home of the UK Royals) are charging hundreds of pounds to let their properties for the wedding weekend!
As well as a boost in tourism, the Royal Wedding is also expected to increase retail sales as people head to the shops and pubs to celebrate. Licensing hours have been relaxed for the weekend in what landlords hope will be a weekend of public celebration.
Rachel Lund, head of retail insight and analytics at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said that the royal wedding in 2011 was believed to have generated around £500 million in extra spending, with Brits forking out on clothing and footwear inspired by the “Royal Feel Good Factor”. She added, “with the country in the mood to celebrate, food and drink sales were also exceptional.” Harry and Meghan’s wedding this weekend is expected to follow a similar pattern in public spending.
The UK is also expected to celebrate in quintessential British fashion with the traditional street party: Hertfordshire County Council (30 miles West of London) has reported 51 applications alone. No doubt sales of bunting and paper napkins will skyrocket!
The question of the royal family’s financial benefit to the UK economy has long been debated. Big royal events are usually welcomed as a boon to British tourism, and by extension, the economy.
But despite the economic boost that Kate and William’s 2011 wedding provided in the form of retail sales and tourism, additional tourists were offset by the exodus of Brits keen to take advantage of the bonus Bank Holiday weekend they were generously given to celebrate. ONS data revealed that although 2.66 million visitors came to the UK in April 2011, 4.81 million Brits escaped the UK and spent their cash abroad!
Add to that the cost of a Bank Holiday to the economy in the UK. Research conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research has shown that a Bank Holiday costs the UK £2.3bn in lost economic output.
While the UK Royal Family is picking up the expenses for the wedding (including the church service, music, reception and flowers), the UK State is collecting the bill for the security costs. The wedding is being tagged as one of the top ten most expensive weddings of all time, coming in at an estimated £32 million, and much of this budget will be swallowed up by increased security costs. Harry’s military background as well as racist comments directed at Ms Markle are extra factors in an increased security budget: £1 million is to be spent on a high-tech counter-drone system, and it is thought the couple will be protected by undercover police and snipers. Top wedding planners Bridebrook have calculated that security alone could cost the nation between £24 million and £30 million.