Downton Abbey and UK tourism

/ Friday, December 20th, 2013 /

The UK Government is backing a £9 million (EUR 10.8 million) push to attract US visitors to Britain following a sharp rise in tourist spending and the “Downton effect”. The £8.8 million (EUR 10.6 million) investment is half funded by Visit Britain with travel site Expedia putting up the remainder. The money will be partially used to fund a television campaign in the US from February. The news source reported that the push for more American tourism to the British Isles comes on the heels of the “Downton effect”, named after the critically acclaimed television show. Visitors to several British estates have increased since the show debuted in 2010. Marketing Manchester states that the National Trust property in Trafford, a grand estate, has become one of the top 10 tourist sites in Manchester, while CNN reported that Highclere Castle, used as the show’s setting, saw 50,000 visitors in 2011, demonstrating a 20,000-person increase.

The 2011 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as well as the 2012 Summer Olympics, also helped increase travel to Great Britain, according to the Daily Mail. Spending by overseas visitors is expected to hit around £20 billion (EUR 24 billion) this year from £18.6 billion (EUR 22.3 billion) in 2012. Americans account for £2.4 billion (EUR 2.9 billion) of overseas tourist spending but the Government thinks that this figure has the potential to increase significantly.

Almost one in three tourists who visit the UK go to see a historic house or castle thanks to the productions’ worldwide success and the popularity of British heritage sites, according to a report from Visit Britain. It was found that visitors spend a total of around £6.5 billion (EUR 7.8 billion) during their stay, with visitors to Northumberland’s Alnwick Castle – the set of Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films – having jumped 230% since 2011. It is thought these increases have contributed an extra £9 million (EUR 10.8 million) into the local area’s economy.


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