Is tourism the crowning glory of the coronation?
Despite the very British weather, London was awash with tourists last weekend flocking to see the spectacle of King Charles III’s coronation.
Not without controversy, many have criticised the pomp and ceremony of gold carriages and ermine robes at a time when many people in the UK find themselves embroiled in an ongoing cost of living crisis.
The travel and hospitality sector may be breathing a sigh of relief however, as domestic and international visitors have given the capital the boost it so sorely needed.
Lured by the historic happenings at Westminster, international tourists flocked in their droves through Heathrow, which reported 6.4 million passengers throughout April, a 25.9 percent increase on April last year. Passenger numbers levelled off after the post-pandemic rebound and Heathrow proved it was ready, with 90 percent clearing security in under 10 minutes.
An estimated extra 30,000 overseas visitors were expected, with the capital predicted to receive an additional revenue windfall worth around £20 million.
Aside from the influx of our foreign friends, the UK travel and tourism industry was predicted to see a boost of £200 million over the coronation and the two-week period surrounding it, with people travelling to celebrate with friends and family.
Although just 47 percent of those surveyed said they are celebrating the coronation, the Bank Holiday inevitably encouraged spending. An additional day off enticed people to book staycations and venture to the capital to join the celebrations, with 4.1 million people estimated to have spent on travel over the Bank Holiday.
Hotels and short-term rentals would have benefited greatly over the weekend. Room rates were up around 16 percent and the number of rentals in the capital increased.
Hotels rolled out the red carpet, with special packages, events, and F&B offerings – with gin and tonics quaffed and quiche consumed.
Time will tell whether the royal-infused enthusiasm will spill over, and the capital will continue to see a flurry of visitors, or whether the coronation was a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon for tourism. Many hotel owners and hospitality workers will be hoping that King Charles’ allure will prevail.