Simon Calder: The real reason travel bosses are dewy-eyed

The man who pays his way

Your response to the news? Somewhere on the happiness spectrum from thinking "Oh, that's nice" to unbounded joy.

That could apply to the release from house arrest of the Burmese pro-democracy campaigner, Aung San Suu Kyi, but for the moment let's address the week's other positive story: the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Judging from the flood of travel press releases the announcement triggered, you might imagine the travel industry is as overjoyed as the couple's families. Irish Ferries was ahead of the pack, offering the Prince and his bride-to-be unlimited free travel on the car ferry between Holyhead and Dublin for as long as the couple reside on Anglesey.

That was swiftly trumped by an invitation to Eskaya, a spa resort in the Philippines where treatments are based on tribal healing traditions (which may appeal to the Royal Family). Two minutes later, publicists for Ackergill Tower in Caithness threw their crown into the ring as a possible wedding venue. As well as "team-building and development" it offers video-conferencing, a cost-cutting solution for these austere times.

While many people have focused on the cost of the event to the public purse, far more important, in terms of earnings and jobs, is the effect on travel patterns. These press releases are mere soggy confetti compared with the hit the travel business will take from the happy event.

Britain's tourism industry will certainly get a long-term boost from wide-screen free publicity for everywhere from the couple's home in north-west Wales to Westminster. In the short term, though, travel-industry bosses will get dewy-eyed over finance, not romance. Whether they are in business selling tourism in Britain, or trying to flog package holidays abroad, the likely impact on earnings will be enough to make them weep.


A royal wedding must mean great news for London, surely? Well, if you happen to own a top-class hotel in the capital, the guest list for the noble nuptials will provide plenty of high-end clients. Add the media circus that will accompany the wedding of the decade, and every four- and five-star property within confetti-drifting range of Westminster Abbey is likely to be fully booked at top rates.

Premium airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will also do well. They usually rely on transfer traffic to help fill their planes. This is better than flying empty seats – but BA and Virgin earn less from passengers flying, say, from Boston to Johannesburg via London than they do from travellers starting or ending in the capital. As demand soars, they can turn off the transfer business and cash in on "end-to-end" traffic, at much higher average fares.

Down among the cheap seats and less-expensive beds, though, the "love dividend" vanishes. Budget hotels and no-frills airlines operate close to capacity all year, tweaking prices to match supply with demand. And while you can expect a spike in bookings to London just before the great event, and from the capital the day after, the corresponding halves of such flights (and Eurostar trains) could prove as empty as a champagne glass after the loyal toast.

Beyond London, the rest of the UK travel industry will suffer. That's because so many inbound tourists are funneled through the capital. If a disproportionate amount of capacity to London is filled with travellers venturing no further than the M25, overseas holidaymakers hoping to head for the Highlands or explore York, Chester and Bath could be priced out of the market. For travellers keen to explore the UK without the crowds, the weekend of the wedding will prove ideal.

Not on the guest list? Bag a bargain

When the royal engagement was announced on Tuesday, purveyors of package holidays were desperate for the answer to one key question. Not the location, choice of best man or colour of the Queen's hat – but the date.

The outbound travel industry quickly concluded there was no ideal date. Events from the World Cup to a General Election keep Brits at home in their millions, and the royal wedding will decimate demand for package holidays. The bookies' early favourite was May, when tour operators switch to summer capacity – tough to sell at the best of times. A July wedding, also strongly fancied, implied heavy discounting in peak season. And the flurry of late betting on March caused consternation among ski companies.

The marriage gives unromantic travellers a chance to snap up a real bargain on a cut-price package – or a long-haul trip, perhaps to a brighter Burma.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London