Their face will be on tea towels, mugs and calendars sold in London’s shops for years to come. Already the new royal baby is giving a boost to the tourist trade in the capital – before they’re even born. Experts are predicting that the arrival of the second child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will help send visitor numbers this year rocketing to record levels.
Current predictions are that 32 million tourists from around the world will flock to London’s famous streets in 2015. The current record was 29.1 million set in 2013 and partly attributed to the interest in the birth of William and Kate’s first baby, Prince George. And while figures for 2014 aren’t yet ready – they should be available in the next few weeks – tourism chiefs expect this year to be a bumper year for visitors.
And it’s not just the George Effect which helped boost tourism numbers in recent years. In 2011, his parents’ wedding brought hundreds of thousands of people to the capital. In 2012, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee attracted thousands more visitors. And as well as George’s birth in 2013, there was another royal boost for tourism that year as the Queen marked 60 years since her coronation. Now it looks as if the latest member of the House of Windsor is going to work some of the same magic.
Experts say tens of thousands of people will come just because of the birth of baby Cambridge. Gordon Innes, of the official promotional company for the capital London & Partners, told the London Evening Standard that ‘the imminent arrival of the royal baby is creating another huge buzz’. And he pointed out that hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions are already offering specially themed events linked to the arrival of the new fourth in line to the throne.
Souvenirs of the royal birth are already planned and ready to go. From the special £5 coin that will be produced by the Royal Mint to mugs and cups that only need confirmation of the baby’s gender and name before they fly onto the shelves.
The Centre for Retail Research thinks the new prince or princess could help boost the UK economy to the tune of around £150 million immediately after their arrival as people rush out to buy memorabilia or food and drink for impromptu parties to welcome William and Kate’s new child. And their director, Professor Joshua Bamfield, thinks that around £20 million of that will be made up of extra sales in London.
There are already royal superfans from around the world gathering near the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s in Paddington ahead of the birth. It seems they will be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to visitors heading to the capital because of the Cambridge’s new family member. Their name isn’t even on the mugs yet, and this little prince or princess is already a tourist attraction.