The events included the Epsom Derby, Big Jubilee Lunch street parties and the River Pageant. Still to come are a star-studded concert before Buckingham Palace and a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral.
Ted Flett, VisitBritain’s public relations and communications manager – Canada, reviews the itinerary with delight. “The occasion ticks many of our boxes in terms of themes we promote to consumers,” he says. “Heritage, culture, sport, music, food are all button-pushers to help convert interests into visits.
“We’re keen to maximize the exposure of the Diamond Jubilee to highlight the enduring appeal of Britain’s core strengths,” he says.
The investment is sound. Flett says that in 1978 – the year after the Silver Jubilee – 216,000 more visitors came to the UK over 1977 and an additional 486,000 flocked in 2003 following the Golden Jubilee of 2002.
On the back of a massive Toronto campaign titled “GREAT Britain” featuring advertising throughout the TTC, GO Train network, underground Path and along the Gardiner Expressway, as well as a swish launch at the Gardiner Museum, VisitBritain is taking their message to the media – social and mainstream.
Story ideas, b-roll and editorial content around the Queen and her Jubilee pepper the customized “Royal Britain” section of the organization’s online media centre at media.visitbritain.com. VisitBritain also ran a press trip over the weekend in partnership with Insight Vacations.
“Our British tours fall within our top five tour destinations and our product there continues to grow year after year,” says Cris David, president, Insight Vacations Canada. “Also, with our historic commonwealth ties, Canadian travellers have a deep affinity for the royal family and everything British. Insight Vacations is thrilled with our customer’s response to the Diamond Jubilee events that are taking place this month and a number of our guests are there to celebrate with the Queen.”
Closer to home, the Canadian tourism industry has also leveraged the Queen’s 60th year on the throne.
On Friday, Le Meridien King Edward Hotel introduced an enhanced Diamond Jubilee afternoon tea service available until June 10. The new menu recognizes the increased interest in British and royal customs which mean business for the hotel.
“We’ve certainly done more covers for tea in the past year or so,” says Daniel Schick, executive chef at the King Edward since 1992. “Since last year’s Royal Wedding, afternoon tea has become more popular.”
Last weekend alone, the hotel set its Wedgewood for over 300 guests, including many in fascinators. Among the highlights are a gold-flake accented sparkling wine, a custom blended black tea, coronation chicken sandwich and sour cherry trifle (a throwback to dessert served at Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1897). And guests depart with a special tin of the tea.
The most challenging of the bite-sized pedestaled snacks?
“The sandwiches,” says Schick. “We try very hard to make certain they’re the same precise size lying on the plate and consistent so that you see the same presentation and sizing on Saturday or Sunday and at a 1pm sitting or 5pm sitting.”
Meanwhile at the Fairmont Royal York, Library Bar manager Craig Moffat is shaking up his own celebration. The British-bred barman introduced three cocktails toasting the Queen’s jubilee on Friday night.
“They are a hit,” he said of the trio that will be available for the month. “I find that Canadians and hotel guests are patriotic and really like the royal family. It helps that Charles and Camilla were just here.” The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall stayed at the hotel during their Queen’s Diamond Jubilee tour of Canada last month.
The Koh-i-Noor, named after the centerpiece diamond of the queen’s crown, is a champagne cocktail featuring Scottish gin, elderflower and finished with crystallized rose petals. The Darya-ye Noor, named after the Queen’s pink diamond, is a martini with strawberry puree, icewine, vodka and honey collected by beekeepers on the hotel’s rooftop. For teetotalers, the Commonwealth Cocktail combines flavours from across the British Empire including pear juice, Ceylon tea, cinnamon and maple syrup.
Only in his third month in Toronto and on the job, Moffat has an affinity for the Library Bar. Immediately after marrying his Canadian wife in 2007, the couple toasted their marriage at the richly-decorated bar.
On the west coast, The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia, hosted its own celebratory afternoon tea and a royal dog show. “We had puppies and dogs prancing across the front lawn and showing their best tricks and best costumes,” said Angela Rafuse-Tahir, the hotel’s director of sales & marketing. Over 200 turned out for the festivities at the hotel recognized for its pet-friendly hospitality.
In the hotel lobby, Rafuse-Tahir says over 1,000 guests – locals, guests and cruise ship passengers – came for afternoon tea, including an enhanced Royal Tea featuring an additional glass of port, cheese tier and honey plate. Launched on Friday, the Royal Tea is available until August 31.
“Victoria has such a British feel and we have a lot of royal fans here so it’s a great place to celebrate,” says Rafuse-Tahir.
Banner Image: Flags in Covent Garden