EXPERT: Expect a wave of new tourists after Royal visit
PRINCE Harry and Duchess Meghan's pending visit to Fraser Island will give the landmark a 'royal' branding that will generate a new wave of international interest in the region, according to tourism experts.
The surprise announcement from the Royals has been lauded by the region's business and tourism operators, with the newlyweds stopping on the island on October 22 as part of their Down Under tour.
But leading tourism experts from USC claim the visit will create a massive publicity opportunity for the Fraser Coast and will potentially be worth millions of dollars.
Fraser Coast USC lecturer Shahab Pourfakhimi, whose research specialises in e-tourism, tourism marketing and tourism destination branding, said the visit would mean Fraser Island would have another "high-level" market to capitalise on.
"The most important thing is that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan are considered global trendsetters," Mr Pourfakhimi said.
"So they will end up changing the way the market operates in the area, because they're selecting that destination for a holiday.
"That alone will create a new wave of interest in to Fraser Island."
Mr Pourfakhimi said local businesses also had the chance to create a lasting tourism product by "creating a legacy" of their visit.
"For example, there could be different tours or events that would remember the visit, or merchandise to sell in shops," he said.
"The visit could also strengthen the pride between the community and the sense of ownership in people, especially in the youth that look up to the royals."
Their visit is based around the Invictus Games schedule, an international sporting event for injured and ill veterans founded by Prince Harry.
Their Royal Highnesses will also visit Sydney, Melbourne, Dubbo, Fiji, Tonga, Wellington, Abel Tasman, Auckland and Rotorua in New Zealand.
USC tourism lecturer Dr Vikki Schaffer said the pair's visit could bring tens of millions of dollars into the region's businesses.
She compared the visit with Prince Charles' visit to Bundaberg earlier this year, which brought an estimated $10 million boost to tourism.
"It's a fantastic ripple effect, so those people that visit will go home and say what happened, and that positive word-of-mouth spreads," Dr Schaffer said.
"We're seeing more development in the Fraser Coast area, so this extra attention will help this continued growth."
During their visit, the Royal couple will participate in engagements focussing on the environment, local history and sustainable tourism.