The death of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has sparked grief across the UK. Travellers from all over the country are expected to descend on London to commemorate the Queen during the ten-day national period of mourning and for the funeral on 19 September 2022. This influx presents a great opportunity for London’s tourism industry, but also creates issues that must be managed.

All sectors of London’s tourism economy set to benefit

According to GlobalData’s Traveler Demands and Flows database, approximately 4.97 million domestic tourists visited London in 2021, which makes an average of approximately 13,600 tourists per day. This was expected to reach 21,500 in 2022 but this figure is now likely to be higher due to the number of domestic tourists expected to arrive in London to commemorate the Queen.

The tourism industry in London is set to receive a boost as it continues its path to recovery. For instance, hotel prices in London are experiencing a boom thanks to surging demand, which helps the lodging industry. In addition to the lodging industry, the UK’s rail sector is set to be a beneficiary as the demand for seats soars. Rail operators have started extra night train services to help the crowds travel safely to the capital.  

Local foodservice operators will also see an increase in trade as visitors look to sample the diverse cuisines that London has to offer. All of this is very much welcome following the challenges presented by the pandemic.

A surge in visitor numbers also brings potential problems

London will need great police resources to ensure the safety of the public visiting during this time of increased security risk. This has created a lack of police resources in other cities, such as Leeds and Manchester. Multiple sports events like the Manchester United vs Leeds United football match in Manchester, and the Chelsea vs Liverpool football match in London have been postponed due to a lack of police resources. London is also expected to experience several roadblocks and traffic jams during the mourning period.

The queues outside Westminster Hall where the Queen lies in state are now reaching three miles long. This shows that the mourners are gathering from all over the UK, and even the wider world, to pay their respect to the Queen.

This constitutes a form of overtourism, albeit for a specific reason and for a defined, short period. Overtourism presents challenges with regards to the local environment and can also pose social problems in some instances. So, while London’s local tourism economy is set for a welcome boost, the issues associated with overtourism must be effectively managed to ensure visitor safety and satisfaction.