THE Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been “tourism gold” for Australia, bringing millions of dollars into the NSW economy.
Prince Harry and Meghan’s day visit to Dubbo alone added more than $3.1 million to the regional city’s coffers – despite the downpour, which failed to dampen the enthusiasm of royal fans.
As thousands of people turned out to catch a glimpse of the royal couple on a tour that centred mainly on Sydney, it has given Australia the kind of advertising money can’t buy.
Tourism Australia managing director John O’Sullivan said Harry and Meghan are “the superstars of the royal family at the moment”.
“We describe them as tourism gold,” he said. Mr O’Sullivan said the fact the Invictus Games was so close to Prince Harry’s heart would also add a lot of value to the royal visit.
“He has such a great story to tell with his own struggles with mental health and the fact they announced their pregnancy in NSW is the kind of coverage money can’t buy,” he said. “Those images will be used again and again and things like Harry climbing the Harbour Bridge with the Invictus athletes – because it’s a cause that he is passionate about – have an impact. It creates a legacy.”
He said interest in Australian holidays spiked by 46 per cent on UK website Travelbag while the Duke and Duchess were here. UK-based traffic to the Australia.com website surged by 15 per cent.
Dubbo Regional Council estimated there were 12,000 day trippers and at least 500 people stayed an average of 2.5 nights each for the one-day royal visit – which equated to a $3.13 million boom.
Special Minister for State, Anthony Roberts said the royal couple brought exposure that rivalled the Olympics.
“You just cannot buy this sort of publicity,” he said.
“It’s in the forefront of people’s minds particularly for areas, for example, like Dubbo.
“This is up there … with the Olympics, having the royal couple here, when it comes to worldwide coverage. This is one of the first couples of the world and people follow them everywhere.”
Travel booking site Wotif travel expert Chris Milligan said the royal visits to Bondi and Dubbo were the most widely publicised.
“People looking for a summer getaway think ‘Why don’t we follow in the footsteps of the Sussexes?’,” he said.
Wotif searches for Dubbo surged by 15 per cent and 45 per cent for Bondi, after the Duke and Duchess visited surfing mental health support group OneWave on the beach.
OneWave’s website crashed and the group gained an extra 6000 social media followers, and it was by surfing and other groups around the world wanting information on its event, Fluoro Fridays.
After Harry and Meghan’s visit to Taronga Zoo – their first public outing after announcing they were pregnant – visits to the zoo’s website shot up by 262 per cent.
The Duchess’ choices of Australian fashion designers has also had results. The black Harriet jean from Outland Denim sold out in just 24 hours of her wearing them in Dubbo.
NSW Tourism Minister, Adam Marshall said world headlines about the royal visit had delivered “priceless destination marketing value for Sydney and regional NSW”.