EXCLUSIVE: NO royal tourism evidence found by VisitBritain

16 May 2018

Tourism agency VisitBritain has failed to provide any evidence that the monarchy is good for tourism.  
 
The tourism body was sent a freedom of information request by campaign group Republic last month.  The request asked for a copy of any records VisitBritain holds which detail the impact of the Royal Family, the Monarchy or major royal events on British tourism.
 
VisitBritain responded a month later, unable to give any evidence to support the idea the royals boost Britain's tourism industry. 



Apparently reluctant to admit the truth, the agency provided unrelated figures to do with heritage tourism and historic sites 'associated with the monarchy'.  But they had no evidence that the existence of the monarchy or the Royal Family has any impact on tourism revenue.
 
Graham Smith of Republic said in response:
 
"We're always being told the monarchy is great for tourism, so where's the evidence?"
 
"If the monarchy is so important for the tourism industry you would think VisitBritain would have done extensive research, yet they've got nothing."
 
"This is desperate stuff from VisitBritain.  Rather than admit they have no evidence, they have scraped together unrelated stats about heritage sites around the UK."
 
"The real test is this: if the monarchy were abolished would tourism revenue fall.  Clearly the answer is no."
 
"The best VisitBritain can do is suggest 'luxury' tourists regard Britain as a 'royal' destination, but that's not evidence those visitors would stay away without royalty to pull them in."
 
"The media, commentators and the palace need to stop trying to justify the cost of the monarchy by citing tourism.  It just isn't true that people come here because of the monarchy." 
 
VisitBritain could provide no evidence of a link between the monarchy and UK tourism.  Instead they said in response to Republic's request:

  • Historical tourist attractions associated with the Monarchy have a broad appeal - Yet this is about heritage tourism that is not connected to the continuation of the monarchy.  Palaces and castles are popular in republics too.  
  • Visitors drawn to Britain by the appeal of its culture and heritage spend a significant amount of money.  - This is heritage tourism, not evidence of any link between the current monarchy and tourism.
  • In relation to attractions with a connection to the Monarchy, the Tower of London was the most visited ‘paid for’ attraction in England, with over2.7 million visitors in 2016.  - This is also about heritage tourism, sites that will still be there in a republic.  The Tower of London demonstrates Republic's point, it's no longer inhabited by the royals yet is far more popular than Buckingham Palace.
  • In the United States in 2017, the word ‘Royal’ was one of the most quoted adjectives that came to the mind of American travellers when they were asked to define Britain. - However when you look at the data it's just 14% of Californians who mention the royals, as well as mentioning bad weather and rain.  Hardly evidence of a major draw factor.
  • After London, Windsor was the second most visited day trip destination by holiday visitors to Britain in 2016. - VisitBritain leaves the reader assuming a royal link here, but Windsor is a historic town which is also home to LegoLand.

VisitBritain's FOI response can be read in full at www.republic.org.uk/visitbritain-foi
 
NOTES
 
Republic will be hosting the International Republican Convention this Saturday, the day of the royal wedding.  Speakers include Tommy Sheppard MP, Emma Dent Coad MP, Jenny Hocking from Australia, representatives from European republican movements and Republic's Graham Smith.
 
The event is open to journalists.  
 
Doors open at 1pm for a 1:30 start.  The convention will be held at:
 
St Bride Foundation
14 Bride Lane
London EC4Y 8EQ
(near Blackfriar's station)