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Originally Posted by Tessie
"Prince Philip: Ban the tourists
26 July 2002
Prince Philip has waded into the vexed debate over London's traffic congestion with an extraordinary proposal - ban tourists.
With apparent disregard for the £8 billion tourists bring to London each year, and despite the fact that visitors to Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle help the Queen balance the royal family's books, Prince Philip wants them out.
He made his view clear during private conversations with members of the London Assembly this week when the Queen opened the new City Hall. The assembly's tourism chairwoman, Jeannette Arnold, listened with astonishment as the Prince blamed foreign visitors for choking London's streets.
Prince Philip, 81, has often courted controversy with his outspoken remarks, but to venture into the politically charged issue of nightmare traffic while visiting the new seat of London government is a departure, even for him.
Ms Arnold, who heads the Culture, Sport and Tourism committee, said: "On hearing what job I did, he said, 'Of course the problem with London is the tourists. They cause the congestion. They block the streets. If we could just stop tourism we could stop the congestion.' I told him I would take further advice on that position.
"He seemed to be taking a rather rarefied view of London. It is clearly the sort of view only held by those who travel around in limousines."
Trevor Phillips, the Assembly chairman who sits on the London Tourist Board, was also sceptical. "This is about as interesting and innovative as many of the other ideas he has come up with in the past, but if he thought it through he would find that his wife would be among the biggest losers. As a great supporter of the Queen I would not want to see anything damage her position."
A ban on tourists would certainly damage the royal family's finances. Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official royal residences, are maintained with the help of £10 million a year earned from visitors.
The Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace are looked after by the Historic Royal Palaces Trust, a charity which made £33.7 million in revenue from tourists last year.
Tourism is one of the capital's top earners. The industry employs nearly 300,000 Londoners and accounts for eight per cent of the capital's income.
Professor Stephen Glaister of Imperial College, who sits on the board of Transport for London, doubted Prince Philip's suggested solution to ease congestion would work. He said: "Tourists generate an extra bit of taxi traffic but I would have thought everyone welcomes them. If we are talking about the London-wide level of traffic, they can't be to blame because tourists are overwhelmingly in the centre whereas much of the worst congestion is further out."
Piers Merchant of the London Chamber of Commerce said he hoped the Duke was joking. "He can't have been serious because the tourism industry is a vital part of London's economy. If tourism adds to congestion it is mainly on the pavements around Buckingham Palace.""
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