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UK expecting 'baby boom' in tourism sector

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

UK expecting 'baby boom' in tourism sector

Following the success of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the U.K. continues to leverage global interest in the country by aggressively promoting itself as a tourist destination. Now, many more international visitors are expected to head to Great Britain following the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's first child, according to The Telegraph.

A lasting legacy
The birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton's son, whom some British media outlets are affectionately referring to as "Baby Cambridge" in the absence of an official name, is a historic event. The child is third in line to the British throne, an event that has only happened twice in the past 65 years - first with the birth of Baby Cambridge's grandfather Prince Charles in 1948 and then again in 1982 with the birth of Prince William himself. As such, the streets of London were packed earlier this week as revelers and well-wishers crowded around the gates of Buckingham Palace to celebrate the birth of the tiny future monarch.

The royal family is already one of Great Britain's biggest tourist draws for overseas visitors, and many experts believe the birth of the Duke and Duchess' son could further promote the U.K. as a tourist destination.

"The Royal Family has long been an asset to English tourism, but never more so than right now, with people across the world in a fever pitch of excitement around the arrival of the royal baby," Lady Cobham, chairman of the tourist body Visit England, told the news source. "The new addition to the Royal Family allows us to celebrate our rich heritage and highlight what families can enjoy on a visit to England."

Riding the wave
In terms of tourism to the U.K., 2012 was one of the best years in recent memory. Even long after the last medals were awarded at the conclusion of the Olympic Games, visitors from across the globe continued to stream into Great Britain in record numbers. In fact, according to the International Business Times, more than 3.4 million people visited the U.K. during the first three months of 2013, spending around $3.2 billion. This represents an 11.5 percent increase in tourism spending compared to the same period in 2012.

Several of London's most popular tourist attractions capitalized on the "royal fever" sweeping the world. The Museum of London, for example, opened a special exhibition earlier this year titled "A Royal Arrival," which showcased the tiny clothes of several royal babies, including booties worn by Queen Victoria's daughter, Princess Beatrice, and a cap worn by Charles I.

Many of London's top hotels are also getting in on the action, such as the luxurious London Hilton Kensington. This lavish hotel is currently offering VIP shopping passes and pampering packages as part of its "Tot-ter Around Kensington" promotion, where moms-to-be can save up to 20 percent at luxury boutiques like Atelier de Courcelles.

Wider economic gains
Britain's tourism industry isn't the only sector that is likely to benefit from the celebrations of Baby Cambridge's birth. According to the Agence France-Presse, the retail sector in the U.K. could also see a substantial uptick in sales as a result.

"If the experience of the royal wedding and the jubilee is anything to go by, this good news should also bring about a temporary 'baby boost' for retailers in the U.K.," Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, told the news outlet. 

Of course, finding a reasonably priced hotel room in London is a challenge for even the most experienced traveler. For this reason, tourists hoping to join in the celebrations in the British capital may want to look into alternatives to costly suites such as furnished extended stay apartments and short term rental units.