This claim is untrue and irrelevant. Even VisitBritain, our national tourist agency, can't find any evidence for it.
Chester Zoo, Stonehenge and the Roman Baths are all more successful tourist attractions than Windsor Castle, which is the only occupied royal residence to attract visitors in large numbers. If Windsor Castle was included in the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) list of top attractions it would come in at number 18.
UK tourism is a major part of the UK economy, worth around £127bn a year. UK residents traveling within the UK and visitors from overseas spend billions of pounds on hotel bookings, visitor attractions, restaurants, theatre tickets and much much more. Overseas visitors alone add £28.4bn to the British economy. Tourism employs almost 10% of the UK’s workforce and attracted 40.9 million visitors to the UK last year.
None of this has anything to do with the royals. People enjoy visiting castles and palaces, but those attractions will still be there once the monarchy is gone.
The highest figure anyone has come up with for royal related tourism revenue is £500m, but it only represents 0.01% of the UK’s economy and just 0.3% of income from Britain’s tourism industry. £500m is approximately 1.9% of the UK’s heritage tourism, so even when attracting people to the UK for our history and heritage the royals just don’t make any difference.
This figure is nonsense anyway, as it doesn’t show any link between that income and the monarchy. The £500m was invented by VisitBritain (who have since stopped using it). They got the figure by adding up all the revenue from any visitor attraction with even the slightest connection, past or present, with the royals. There was no evidence showing any link between the visitor revenue and the current royal family.
Research shows that tourists come here for our world class museums, beautiful scenery, fantastic shopping and captivating history - not because they might catch a glimpse of Prince William. In a republic, royal properties such as Buckingham Palace would be open all year round, so visitors that do want to explore our royal heritage would have even more opportunity to do so.
But, even if the claim were true, do we really want the whims of visiting tourists to determine what kind of political system we have?