Saturday’s royal wedding of Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle could end up being a billion-dollar boom for the UK economy as tourists descend on the country, ready to spend what analysts expect will be over $1.4 billion.
Even so, tourism earnings will have to offset a wedding that itself costs taxpayers a fortune. The last royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton cost a reported $27 million, and Saturday’s comes with a considerably higher price tag. Security alone, by some unofficial estimates, is said to cost around $40 million.
According to British Brand Finance, this weekend’s royal wedding will result in $1.43 in total spending by tourists on retail, restaurants, fashion and merchandise.
“It is natural that Meghan Markle’s royal wedding is attracting a lot of attention across North America, both in her native USA and in Canada, where she lived for several years,” Brand Finance CEO David Haigh said in a press release.
“But the event’s appeal extends far beyond those geographies. With the recession a memory of the past, global mobility increasing, the pound depreciated, and an incredible media interest in the event, tourist numbers are likely to exceed expectations.”
The consulting company is expecting a 3-percent rise in non-business visits to the UK by American tourists. The Evening Standard reported that as many as 50,000 US visitors are expected to travel to Windsor for the royal wedding.
Some analysts, though, are more cautious about the extent of the expected boon for the UK economy. Related: Japan Threatens U.S. With $400M In Tariffs
"We would be wary of over-egging the potential impact or seeking to put a hard figure on the potential gains," said Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club, CNN reported, noting that historically, royal weddings have “fallen flat in terms of economics.
"It should be kept in mind that some of the retail spending may just be switched from spending on other items."
The British Office for National Statistics showed that during the 2011 royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, retail sales volumes rose 1.1 percent month-on-month in April that year. The data also shows that the UK took in 350,000 more visitors that month. But at the same time that the economy grew 0.5 percent in Q1 2011, household spending fell by 0.6 percent in real terms.
But at the same time, many view this royal wedding as remarkably different than its predecessors because of the “Meghan effect”.
Walpole luxury goods head Helen Brocklebank told The Evening Standard: “It’s not only the anticipated weekend spike for hoteliers and for British luxury retailers, crucially it is the halo effect, lasting long after the wedding. The US is the single biggest market for British luxury and already brands like DeMellier, worn by Meghan Markle, have seen a huge uptick in online sales from US customers.”
And Brand Finance CEO David Haigh says that Markle could end up contributing over $200 million to the British fashion industry all on her own through unofficial brand endorsements, because she “will quickly match or even surpass the Duchess of Cambridge in her incredible influence on the fashion industry”.
And while the Royal Wedding has doubled Markle’s value over the past months, according to Brand Finance, the ‘Meghan Effect’ at least on the fashion industry across borders could be a long-lasting one.
By Josh Owens for Safehaven.com
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