• 18 Nov 2010

Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton could deliver a major boost to tourism and the British economy as well as the fashion, craft and creative industries, VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe said yesterday.

The publicity boost alone will be unprecedented. Almost a billion TV viewers watched the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana in 1981. The union of their eldest son to his bride can be expected to exceed that audience almost thirty years on.

Their marriage in the Spring or Summer of 2011 could easily be the biggest broadcast event in history with predictions that four billion people, three-quarters of the potential global TV audience, could watch the event. This would be multiplied by online and social media. Coverage of the wedding will give Britain a golden opportunity to demonstrate the strength of its history and tradition, but also show the world how that story is being brought right up to date by a very modern Royal couple, she said.

Some 30 million overseas tourists visited Britain last year, bringing in revenue worth £16 billion. In the latest survey foreign travellers told us that Britain’s culture and heritage was the most important reason why they came here, Our research shows that in a typical year Britain’s Monarchy generates, on the most conservative estimates, well over £500 million a year directly and indirectly from overseas tourists – but the benefit of a Royal Wedding year is likely to outstrip that.

The long-term impact of the event is likely to be spread right across Britain’s tourism sector. After the wedding the couple, who met at St Andrews University, will live in North Wales where the Prince is serving with the RAF. Their fame looks likely to have a beneficial impact on the fashionability of North Wales which last year attracted 289,000 overseas visitors, bringing in a total of £77 million in revenue. Places like the beautiful Dee Valley and the picturesque market town of Llangollen, the Snowdonia National Park and the vast medieval fortress Caernarfon Castle built by Edward I look set to gain extra cache as tourist destinations.

The timing of the wedding in the year before the 2012 Diamond Jubilee of HM the Queen and London’s hosting of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is a happy coincidence with the publicity around the marriage creating a ‘’halo effect’’ that will carry over to the celebrations of the following year.

Sandie Dawe said: ‘’The Royal Wedding is set to deliver a welcome boost not just to the tourism industry in London but across Britain. It will give VisitBritain a wonderful opportunity to showcase Britain in the lead up to the 2012 Games. We are already talking to the rights holding broadcasters and the marriage in 2011 gives a further unparalleled chance to tell the world what we have to offer as a tourism destination.

‘’The couple studied at St Andrews and spend time at Balmoral so that is a wonderful boost for Scotland and they live in Wales which has fantastic scenery and awe-inspiring castles. William and Kate are a modern couple. They go to nightclubs and they are outdoor people which gives us the chance to talk about these activites on offer to overseas visitors.. Kate seems to shop on the high street which is very accessible. The wedding dress will give us a chance to highlight our designers while the wedding gifts will showcase our outstanding craftspeople, potters, glass and textiles. All of this helps us tell the story of contemporary Britain. It is the most wonderful publicity boost for the country.’’

VisitBritain has sponsored a question on the respected Nation Brands Index survey (2010), which looks at countries as if they are commercial brands, to evaluate the appeal of specific activities to potential tourists. The question asked “Which of the following activities would you most like to do while on holiday in Britain?"

Respondents from 20 countries around the world were allowed to choose up to 3 activities from a list of 18.

The top three activities all involved castles/palaces as you can see from the chart below., respondents found the idea of going on a tour around Welsh castles highly appealing (selected by 34% of respondents).

A tour of Buckingham Palace was next on the list (32%), followed by spending a night in a Scottish castle (29%)

Notes to Editors:

  • Our ‘’culture and heritage’’ in the widest sense - extending from theatres, galleries, to pubs, Premiership Football, castles and stately homes - generated £4.6 billion in total spending by overseas tourists in 2009, and supported 100,000 jobs.
  • But within that total one-in-eight of those sites – ranging from the Tower of London to The Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh and Ruthin Castle in Wales – are associated with Monarchy. Britain’s Monarchy generates well over £500 million a year from overseas tourists, new research from VisitBritain reveals. (Figure
  • Of the 30 million overseas visitors who came to Britain last year 5.8 million visited a castle, 5 million an historic house and 6.4 million a religious monument such as a cathedral.
  • The Tower of London, scene of the beheading of Anne Boleyn, was the top royal attraction for international visitors in 2009 with 2.4 million visitors. The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich which incorporates The Queen's House, home to the wives of James 1 and Charles 1 and the Royal Observatory was second on 2.3 million.
  • St Paul’s Cathedral, the setting for Charles and Diana’s marriage ceremony, was fourth on 1.8 million. Westminster Abbey, the site of Royal Coronations and funerals since Norman times, was next on 1.4 million. The Monarchy in Scotland also holds tourists in its thrall. Edinburgh Castle, indelibly linked to the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots, received 1.1 million visitors, putting it in sixth position. Windsor Castle, a principal residence of both Queen Elizabeth I and II came seventh with 987,000.
  • Hampton Court Palace, one of only two surviving palaces associated with the much-married King Henry VIII was ninth with over 540,000 visitors. Buckingham Palace, attracted 402,000 visitors even though it only opens for eight weeks a year. The palace has become a must see on the international tourist agenda since it began opening to the public in 1993, many lured by memories of newly-married Charles and his wife Diana kissing on the balcony.
  • Then potential tourists were also asked to choose from 15 postcards that they would send to communicate that they were in Britain. They ranged from The London Eye, Tea to Red Phone Boxes. The icon picked by the most respondents was a red double decker bus (24%) followed by a stone castle by the sea (20%).
  • But the third most popular choice, at 11% of respondents, was Queen Elizabeth II, well ahead of fish and chips or draught beer.
  • VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, is responsible for inspiring the world to explore Britain and for developing the UK’s visitor economy.
  • Every year 17million visits are made by international consumers to the 57 websites that make up VisitBritain’s global family of websites,, which together provide information in 21 different languages.
  • VisitBritain is a Non-Departmental Public Body whose prime sponsor is the Department for Culture, Media and Sport
  • Follow us on twitter @VisitBritainBiz or our consumer Twitter @VisitBritain and

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