Britain awaiting royal tourism windfall

Peter Cary
Tourism chiefs are expecting a boost as holidaymakers flock to Britain for the royal wedding

Tourism chiefs are expecting a boost in visitor numbers this northern spring, as holidaymakers flock to Britain for May's royal wedding.

As police prepare to secure Windsor against would-be terrorists and security threats, others are hoping to cash in on the 100,000 revellers expected to descend upon the small Berkshire town over the wedding weekend.

Director of the national tourism agency Visit Britain, Patricia Yates, said royal weddings offered opportunities to showcase the country, while Meghan Markle's connection to American audiences and a weaker pound were likely to contribute to increased visitor numbers in May.

"It's a great opportunity, it's a great showcase moment for Britain," she said.

"We know that history and heritage is already a major draw for travel to the country, and it's really (about) interpreting that for a younger audience, showing a couple that are in love.

"Obviously she is American, so there's that connection with international markets, and there is already huge interest in the fashion she's wearing, and some of the modern British culture too."

The last royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011 contributed to a 7 per cent rise in visitors between April and June (around 8.3 million visitors, up from 7.8 million) compared with the same period in 2010, Ms Yates said.

A spike in visitor numbers to Buckingham Palace was observed when around 600,000 people queued to see the Duchess's wedding dress in a special display during its summer opening that year.

Ms Yates added: "I think that the fundamental strength of British tourism is that we've got a great product, we've got great history and heritage, London is a global city everyone wants to come and see."

Last week, the internet hospitality giant Airbnb predicted a 192 per cent increase in bookings in Windsor between May 18 and May 20 compared with the same period last year, and as much as a 1438 per cent increase in nearby Slough.

The company said around 42,000 guests were expected to make use of its service in London, representing around PS12 million ($A22 million) for hosts who rent out their properties.

James McClure, general manager for Airbnb, said: "The Royal Wedding has provided a welcome tourism boost, putting the UK in the spotlight once again.

"By creating an opportunity to host visitors from near and far, Airbnb is supporting economic investment into small, local communities and also helping locals to make a little extra money from sharing their homes."