By MOLLY TOWNSEND
Mother Lode Foothill business-boosters are hopeful Prince William and Kate Middleton’s planned honeymoon stop in California will be a royal boon economically.
Should they visit the park, they would join a roster of royalty that has vacationed in region in the recent past, including Queen Elizabeth II of England, who visited Yosemite about two decades ago, and Jordanian King Abdullah II and his 16-year-old son, Crown Prince Hussein bin Al Abdullah, who stopped for a meal at the Jamestown National Hotel last year while on a motorcycle tour of the Mother Lode.
William and Kate’s honeymoon itinerary includes several days in the Seychelles, islands off the eastern coast of Kenya, then plans to head to Canada, en route to California.
The coming visit will provide a huge promotional opportunity for the California Travel and Tourism Commission, said Nanci Sikes, executive director of the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau.
Sikes believes the visitors bureaus, along with the California Travel and Tourism Commission, do a lot in the way of promoting California in the UK.
The commission has a public relations firm, Black Diamond, based in the London that airs television ads promoting travel in California, she added.
With all the buzz about Kate and William’s trip to the golden state, Sikes said she is encouraging businesses and resorts to promote “royal packages” in celebration of the rare occurrence.
Sikes said she has assembled a mailing list of about 300 restaurants, lodges, and businesses that she hopes will join in the effort to create royal-themed deals to attract vacationers, since the royal wedding has had such a huge international following.
“It’s endless what we could do with this,” she said.
She is thrilled at the idea that Yosemite could be one of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s destinations.
“I know everything is under wraps, but wouldn’t it make sense that if they’re going to come to California ... one of the Iconic stops would have to be Yosemite?” Sikes pondered.
Lisa Cesaro, of DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc., is also excited at the possibility of Yosemite National Park being a “royal destination.”
She said that, although she’s heard nothing yet of such plans, anonymity of such lodgers is a requirement of the resorts.
Yosemite is, however, a world-class destination, she noted.
Aside from Queen Elizabeth II, past presidents Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy vacationed there, as has television personality, Oprah Winfrey, she said.
“The UK is definitely the strong market for us in the park here,” Cesaro said, “so I think it’d be fantastic if they come here.”