California is hoping that an official visit by Prince William and his new bride Kate next month will give a boost to the cash-strapped US state’s tourist industry.
Tourism chiefs are hoping that the Royal Tour in July will help to showcase the Golden State’s attractions to the rest of the world.
‘No matter where they venture in California, the royal visit will create a global postcard for the Golden State this summer,’ said Caroline Beteta, head of the California Travel and Tourism Commission.
‘Certainly at a time when international travel is leading the rebound in the industry, it’s a pivotal time for California to be on the world stage with a such a highly-publicized visit by the royal newlyweds,’ she told AFP news agency.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are due to visit California from 8 to 10 July, after a seven-city tour of Canada. However, the Royal couple’s official itinerary for the trip has not yet been released.
The trip comes as California, the most populous US state whose economy would make it the eighth largest economy in the world if it were a country, struggles to recover from the global recession.
But tourism chiefs say the travel sector is leading the recovery.
‘Travel no doubt took a hit in 2009 when the global economy took a major downturn and people were forced to make tough spending choices. The good news now is that travel is on the rebound,’ said Beteta.
‘Leisure travel from all of California’s top international markets, with the exception of Japan, are forecasted to experience growth into 2015,’ she added.
And she said: ‘California is already a premier travel destination for visitors worldwide. The royal visit will not only cement that status but spur new demand for people to come and visit California.’ St James’s Palace said a detailed itinerary for the California visit would be published at a later date.
Celebrities including Elton John and David and Victoria Beckham – who were all guests at the Royal wedding – are said to be keen to meet with William and Kate during their visit.
Whatever their eventual itinerary, the Royal couple are expected to spend at least one night at a new £7,500-a-night presidential bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel – known as the ‘Pink Palace’ because of its trademark pink stucco exterior.
The 5,500 sq ft bungalow ‘Number 23’ is still under construction alongside a smaller 5,000 sq ft bungalow.
A hotel source said: ‘Everyone has been sworn to secrecy but we are all thrilled that the Royal couple have chosen to stay with us.’
The three-bedroom, three-bathroom bungalow has walnut wood floors and a dining room with seating for ten. There is a free-standing bath-tub for two, vast walk-in closet and a 65inch Bang & Olufsen television.
Outside, the bungalow boasts an outdoor shower and private pool with underwater speakers, a waterfall and Jacuzzi.
It will be the first time that Kate has ever visited the United States and the first time that William has visited the continent in an official capacity.
The couple will begin their first week-long official overseas trip as a married couple touring Canada from June 30 to July 8 visiting Ottawa, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Alberta and the Northwest Territories, including a trip to the Arctic.
Their California visit will be hotly anticipated after the U.S. President Obama told the Prince of Wales that the Royal wedding left Americans mesmerised.
The U.S. president told the groom’s father in an informal meeting in the Oval Office of the White House last month that he was taken with the way Prince William and Kate handled the pressure of the big day, which attracted the largest ever online audience for a single event.
It will not be the first British royal trip to California: William’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth II visited in 1983, stopping in LA, San Diego, Palm Springs and San Francisco.
Princess Diana was a hit when she came in the 1980s, while father Prince Charles and his second wife Camilla visited the San Francisco Bay area in 2005.