February 19, 2020
Following a “battle royal” among the members of Britain’s sovereign Windsor family, Prince Harry and his wife—the former (and future?) actress Meghan Markle—and their son, Archie, have been living on Canada’s posh Vancouver Island, located just off the coast of British Columbia.
In taking up residence on the island, either temporarily or permanently, the Sussexes have instantly elevated awareness of the 12,000-square-mile enclave—now trending globally as the next “it” place to buy property or vacation.
“Vancouver Island is now on the map as a place where royals reside and live, similar to Martha’s Vineyard being put on the map by the Kennedys and Kennebunkport by the Bushes,” Eric Smallwood, president of the Apex Marketing Group, told NBC News this week. “The focus will be tourism. A little longer term, it will be real estate.”
Smallwood told the network news outlet thatd all of the buzz is worth more than $38 million in positive brand value for the country, with that number increasing daily based on news coverage and information about the Sussexes’ new life on Vancouver Island, according to an analysis he conducted for NBC News.
Sotheby’s Realty lists 57 luxury homes for sale on the island for anyone who might be interested in living like a royal. One home, billed as a “surfer’s paradise” located on the water is priced at $10.5 million, while another “luxurious oceanfront estate” is on the market for nearly $6.8 million.
Additionally, Levine predicted that the couple’s presence could lead to a new cottage industry: independent, “not-so-royal tours, which highlight the family’s favorite local shops, restaurants and playgrounds,” he said. “There may be a temporary influx of visitors trying to catch a glimpse of the couple out and about.”
George Hanson, president and CEO of the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance, told NBC News he is “continually surprised at how few North Americans are aware of our island,” which is a short trip from Seattle. Hanson said he’s thrilled that the island is now known by people around the world.
“Vancouver Island is one of the most progressive, beautiful, pristine. and spacious destinations in the world,” he said. “We understand why Harry and Meghan might choose to live here and why others not familiar with the island might want to come see this appeal for themselves.”
“The couple could have chosen to live anywhere in North America and they selected Vancouver Island. That’s a powerful endorsement and is generating positive buzz for the community,” said Andy Levine, chairman of the marketing company Development Counsellors International.
Research contact: @NBCNews