Wedding tourists inundate London

Two people getting married have probably never caused so much chaos in a capital city.

London is experiencing a massive surge in visitors and travellers across the board in preparation for the Royal Wedding of William and Kate.

That’s largely due to the mooted influx of 1.1 million people who visit London on that day, more than double the normal amount of 500,000.

The Association of Train Operating Companies estimates that up to 400,000 people will be travelling by trainto central London on Friday, 29 April. This is in marked contrast to the usual passenger numbers on bank holidays where there are fewer business travellers. Indeed, there will even be 750,000 commemorative limited edition Oyster travel cards for use on the tube and bus network which feature a photo of the happy couple.

The total estimate, according to Visit London, of spending increase in the capital during the period is $66.5 million. Room rates are already soaring in anticipation, with bookings having taken place since the date was announced.

And due to the massive amount of additional tourists, private homeowners are renting out additional rooms for fees that might be most politely described as ‘effectively capitalised’.

According to an article by Bloomberg, a room at the Waldorf Hilton in central London is $458, which is up from $325 just a week ago. Other reports stated that an apartment within walking distance of the wedding would be rented for $2,325 during the week of the big event – more or less double the usual amount.

Flight surges

There have been large increases in searches for flights into London during the wedding, with a 650 per cent increase from the United States. That was still just behind a huge 708 per cent increase for flights from Holland. Prices are going up as a result (aside from France, where searches actually went down by 0.5 per cent).

Still, as the old chestnut goes, it is demand that drives market prices.

Central London will be awash with royalists waving flags and in near-hysterics at the feast of opulence in front of them, making parts of the capital completely off-limits; there are road closures in effect for parts of the day, including Grosvenor Place, Haymarket, Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge (east of Sloane St), Park Lane and Piccadilly.

And of course if you’re not into the wedding celebrations, trains run out of the capital too – perhaps a good chance to explore some of the surrounding countryside of England without the crowds and congestion of peak times.