THOUSANDS more people have poured into Portsmouth to see the Royal Navy’s giant new aircraft carrier, creating an economic ‘boom’ in the city.
It has been almost a month since HMS Queen Elizabeth’s historic homecoming.
And since the 65,000-tonne leviathan came alongside in Portsmouth, visitors from across the country have flocked to see the warship.
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard has seen a record surge in the numbers visiting the heritage site to catch a glimpse of the aircraft carrier.
During the summer break 180,000 people have flooded through the gates – 70,000 more than last year.
John Rawlinson, director of visitor experience , said: ‘It is very clear that the nation has taken HMS Queen Elizabeth into their hearts and minds and the excitement is palpable about her arrival.
‘It has meant that the historic dockyard attractions have been operating at capacity and we have put on extra harbour tours.
‘It was so busy we had to change our ticket arrangements temporarily but have now reverted to our normal arrangement.’
City hotels have also benefitted from the boost.
Amanda Gilmore, operations manager at Queens Hotel, in Southsea, said they had seen a rise in bookings since the carrier’s arrival.
She claimed this could be due, in part, to the Clarence Parade site’s recent makeover. But she said HMS Queen Elizabeth had created a ‘huge interest’ among tourists.
‘It’s a very positive and patriotic plus for Portsmouth,’ she said. ‘People are undoubtably interested in the new aircraft carrier.’
She added: ‘Seaside towns did have a dip in tourism a while ago but that is all changing. People are rediscovering some of the jewels of our country and I hope that continues in Southsea.’
Currently, Queen Elizabeth is still in Portsmouth for planned maintenance. She is expected to leave to continue her sea trials in the next couple of months.
In that time, city council leaders hope more visitors will take the opportunity to see the 280m-long warship.
Councillor Scott Harris, vice-chairman of the economic development, culture and leisure scrutiny panel, said: ‘We should be encouraging more people to have a look at a very important part of our nation’s defence mechanism.
‘It’s the envy of the world. It’s a really important thing that we have got here. It’s wonderful for the city. The people coming here in their thousands has definitely created a boom for Portsmouth.’