Visit Britain, the British Tourist Authority, published a report in November 2010, in which Sandie Dawe, its Chief Executive, claimed the royal wedding planned for April 29, 2011, would be a huge boost to tourism and the British economy.
Quite how she arrived at this conclusion is unclear. It’s a long-standing royalist myth that tourists are flocking in from all over the world because of the royal family whereas, in fact, culture and heritage are the primary reason and by culture, they mean the West End, Shakespeare, Dickens, the Tate Gallery etc and by heritage, they mean historic towns and cities like Bath and York and ancient monuments such as Stonehenge.
What they don’t mean is they come here in the hope of glimpsing any members of an undersized and dysfunctional family, itself the result of centuries of inbreeding. Most countries can probably manage one or two of those sort of families themselves and they don’t have to get wet to see them.
It’s true that the royal family and their ancestors played a part in shaping that heritage, certainly, but then so did the black death.
The reason we know why people come to Britain is because organisations like Visit Britain ask them, which makes Sandie Dawe’s comment all the more puzzling.
Her comments were widely reported at the time, as you’d imagine; Royal Wedding Boost for Economy, Huge Boost to Tourism etc.
The obvious flaw in Sandie Dawe’s argument was that the event was in the future and, therefore, any claims of boosting tourism or the economy were (and are) entirely speculative.
It now emerges that Sandie Dawe misrepresented her own organisation. David Edwards, Visit Britain’s head of Research and Forecasting, had a slightly different view, disclosed under the Freedom of Information act by the excellent campaign groupÂ Republic,Â which has managed to obtain copies of correspondence that show opinions considerably different from the view expressed publicly by Sandie Dawe.
His views have the advantage of being based on facts, particular the examples of previous royal weddings, and show that tourism revenue actuallyÂ declines in the event of a royal wedding. Common sense alone would tell you that some people are likely to stay away because of the perceived disruption and the figures obtained by David Edwards and publicly reported in theÂ Guardian back that up.
Unsurprisingly, you’d struggle to see this reported anywhere else in much of the sycophantic British press.