England's Tourism Chief Predicts Royal Wedding Will Mean Visitor Boom
"This is very, very good news for tourism in England," James Berresford, chief executive of VisitEngland, tells AOL Travel News. "We at VisitEngland really congratulate the happy couple. We think it's great news (for them), but it also creates such a great feel good factor for England when a royal wedding happens."
Berresford predicts that not only will thousands of international visitors travel to "join the throngs that will be celebrating here in England," but that there will be huge interest in travel to England as a result of the wedding.
"So many of the attractions that are associated with the monarchy or indeed any royal connections are hugely popular," Berresford says. "We estimate that something like 500 million pounds ($802 million) is spent each year on attractions that are associated with royalty. It's big business."
With the eyes of the world tuned in for the first major royal wedding since Prince Charles and Diana, "it's just the most fantastic chance for us to showcase all that is great about England and believe me we will do that," Berresford says. "People feel good about England. They feel good about the monarchy they feel good about the tourism product as a result and they want to come over and in a way trace the steps of royalty, and I am sure that effect will be in play for quite some time."
The royal couple has not yet announced a location for the wedding, though traditional locations such as Westminster Abbey have been suggested.
"Wherever it is it will be turned into a huge celebration and that's absolutely for sure," Berresford says. "I assume that it will be in London and that's a great focal point but I can assure you that people will be celebrating up and down the length and breadth of the land."
Airline and hotel packages will likely emerge as soon as a wedding date and location are set. Berresford says price gouging is unlikely, especially in a market that has seen some declines due to the economy. "No one is going to price anybody out of the market, that's for sure," he says.
England was already gearing up for two major happenings in 2012, the Olympic Games in London and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The 2011 royal wedding, Berresford says, will "set the mood perfectly."
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Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle photos, VisitEngland