Richard III could provide a king’s ransom for Leicester with an estimated £140 million tourism boost.
Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Martin Traynor has based his calculation on the increased flow of tourists into Leicester since the discovery of the king’s remains and all the national and international press coverage of the city.
More than 28,000 people have visited the temporary Richard III exhibition at the Guildhall since it opened last month, with many of them coming from outside the county.
Bosworth Battlefield has also reported a sharp rise in numbers, doubling the attraction’s annual entrance figures for February.
Mr Traynor said that means more spending in Leicester in shops, pubs, cafes and hotels – and he estimated all that could add up to a further 300 jobs being created over time.
He said: “I’m using the estimate that Richard III will equate to about one per cent of our annual tourism income, which is about £1.4 billion a year.
“That will mean £140 million more spent on hotels, restaurants, retail and so on, and I think that’s probably a conservative guess.
“We’ve already seen the news crews coming here from all over the world and you only have to go to the Guildhall to see the effect Richard III is having.
“This is hugely welcome and is a real boost to leisure and tourism industry which continues to grow.”
Leicester Shire Promotions agreed with the £140 million estimate by Mr Traynor and said it was doing a lot of work to link the city and county exhibitions, including coach tours.
Chief executive Martin Peters said that Leicestershire’s influence was spreading across the world, with interest coming from the Far East and America.
He said: “Looking at some of the bookings which have been coming through our website, we can see we are getting visitors from New York and Vietnam, which is amazing.
“I’m not saying Richard III is the only reason, but I suspect it will play a large part in their visits.”
Mr Peters said record numbers of travel and tourism writers and journalists were coming to sample the Richard III fever.
The temporary Guildhall exhibition will be replaced next year by a permanent visitor centre being built on the grounds of the former Leicester Grammar School, near to where Richard was uncovered.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: “The numbers of visitors we’ve had following the amazing announcement last month is just giving us a flavour of what, potentially, is in store for the city.
“It shows what we will be expecting when the full-time building opens, which will be 20 times bigger and bring in an equivalent amount of people.”
The amazing discovery of the Plantagenet monarch has elevated tourism in the county as well as the city, as people head for the historical site of Richard’s death.
Bosworth Battlefield’s temporary and permanent exhibitions, guided walks, falconry displays and the Warriors of Bosworth event attracted 2,317 people last month, compared with 942 people the previous year.
Among the people queuing up to visit the exhibition at the Guildhall on Saturday were Andy and Tracey Parkinson, from Derby.
Tracey, 46, said: “It’s my birthday this weekend and this was my choice – I watched all the programmes on TV about it and I’ve found it really interesting.”
William Cox, 77, who lives in Barcelona, also went to the exhibition while visiting family in Leicestershire.
“It’s been on Spanish TV a lot,” he said. “I think it is very interesting to a lot of people elsewhere.
“We were always told the king was cut up and thrown in the River Soar, so this is fascinating.”