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LONDON – Not content with having served Britain all her life, Queen Elizabeth II, on her death, made a final contribution.
With the eyes of the world fixed on the UK this week, experts predict a surge in domestic and international tourism that will last well beyond the official mourning period. Supporters flock to London. Retail sales of Queen-related merchandise are skyrocketing.
“That’s awful advertising, isn’t it?” said Sheela Agarwal, professor of tourism management at Plymouth Business School, of the tragic circumstances for which global attention has turned to the UK
“But this is advertising.”
The Queen’s coffin will leave Buckingham Palace on Wednesday for Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster, where it will remain undisturbed until the morning of her funeral on Monday.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to travel to London to pay their respects, with accommodation already filling up quickly and transport services swelling. It looks like a boom time for the capital’s shopping streets and hospitality businesses, which have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“London will be doing well over the next few days,” said Kevin Kaley, director of consultancy firm Tourism UK and former chairman of the Tourism Society.
A government official declined to estimate how many people are expected to travel to London ahead of the Queen’s funeral – ‘How long does a piece of string last?’ they shrugged – but noted the huge interest across the UK in the historic events they witnessed.
After 70 years on the throne, the Queen’s passing is truly global news, with media around the world feverishly covering the period of national mourning. A sea of cameras followed the Queen’s motorcade as it traveled from Balmoral to Edinburgh. King Charles III and his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, are now touring the UK ahead of the funeral, with each new visit attracting acres of media coverage.
“You couldn’t imagine what it would have cost you [in publicity]Kaley said of Scotland’s media coverage this week. He compared the exhibition to Yorkshire’s hosting of a Tour de France stage in 2014, which led to a surge in visitor numbers to the area. “You’ll get a market that didn’t necessarily have that particular place on their radar, but woke up to it seeing the scenery on TV,” he said.
For all the talk of an economic boost, there are, of course, important caveats. London retailers Selfridges and Liberty closed, while a number of sporting and shopping events were canceled in the days immediately following the Queen’s death. And there won’t be any automatic boost to the treasury coffers, given that the new king won’t be paying inheritance tax on his mother’s vast estate.
Also affected are consumer brands that bear the Royal Warrant, such as Heinz canned foods and Weetabix breakfast cereals, allowing them to display a crest on their products proving their status as official suppliers to the Queen or other senior members of the lineage.
The Warrant Holders’ Association website explains that once the grantor dies, the warrant “will become void and the company or individual will have two years to cease using the Royal Coat of Arms in connection with the company”.
Will Calvert, director of Windsor and Eton Brewery, which received the warrant in 2018 for supplying its beers to the Royal Household, said the stamp is “important” to his business as a “sign of quality and approval”. He was optimistic about the prospect of losing the warrant after the Queen’s death. “I’ll care when I get there,” he said.
But David Haigh, chairman and CEO of consultancy firm Brand Finance, which has carried out assessments of the monarchy’s economic contribution to the UK, said the issuance of new royal warrants by King Charles III “will likely be a boon for lucky brands.” to enjoy.”
An immediate hit to the economy looms on Monday. The Queen’s funeral will be a national holiday, with the coronation of King Charles III, likely to take place next year, expected to follow. Brand Finance estimates that each bank holiday costs around £2 billion in lost productivity.
However, the King’s lavish coronation ceremony could provide an “economic boost” to Britain’s high streets and hospitality sector, akin to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, said Liz Sharples, senior marketing and tourism teacher at the ‘University of Portsmouth.
From a tourism perspective, experts say the Coronation will provide even more coverage of the UK, its heritage, buildings and institutions. “It’s like a big, long TV advert for why you would go to London,” Kaley said of the upcoming royal events.
In the streets around Buckingham Palace, the tourist trade is already flourishing.
Michael Bloomberg of Lambert Souvenirs, which has a shop near London’s famous Trafalgar Square landmark, said the store had already sold products related to the Queen on Friday lunchtime.
Bloomberg predicted demand would continue to rise until about a month after the Queen’s funeral, when things would likely start to calm down. But he added: ‘I think in the Queen’s case the items will be popular for a while because she was so special.’
There has traditionally been “very little interest” in products featuring the Queen’s eldest son, he noted, but “now that he is king it will no doubt pick up again”.
Royal memorabilia associated with Queen Elizabeth II are also expected to rise in price, according to James Grinter, managing director of auctioneers Reeman Dansie.
“Princess Diana always tops the list when it comes to high prices,” he said. “But now that we’ve lost our dear queen, I think that’s probably going to change.”
China is increasingly interested in royal commemorations such as Christmas cards signed by the late queen, Grinter said. “It’s probably kind of kicking off The Crown,” he said, referring to Netflix’s hit series about the royal family.
Brand Finance, which in 2017 estimated the capital value of the monarchy at £67billion (much to the fury of outraged Republicans, who argue the Royal Family is a net burden on the British taxpayer), said a “An important part of the value of the monarchy derives from the stability of the institution.
“A smooth and orderly transition from one monarch to the next will add to this stability, as there is no other claimant to the throne than Charles,” said company CEO Haigh, who led the report. of 2017.
While acknowledging that the Queen herself has made a “vital contribution to the economic impact of the monarchy” by helping the UK “be seen as a stable and modern nation linked to its past”, Haigh said ” our expectation [is] that the continued benefits for trade and international relations will remain mostly stable.
The full extent to which the royal family contributes to British tourism is of course a controversial subject. But most experts say a new monarch won’t deter people from visiting the UK
“Who’s the king is probably less important than having a king, and it’s probably less important that there’s a monarchy and a lot of wealth and pomp and fine buildings to go and see and that it’s in a historic place,” said a tourism expert. Kaley. “It’s probably a higher priority for anyone’s decision-making.”
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