Harry Potter, the magic potion for UK tourism

Sam Thorne, Tour Guide Harry Potter Journeytakes care of about twenty of the famous little wizard's followers, on a visit to EdinburghAlong the fictional character's paths in the Scottish town.

Fans of the saga come from all over the world to Scotland and the UK, generating billions of pounds in revenue, a profit that continues to grow almost 30 years after the first volumes by author J.K. Rowling were published.

“Here you will find Voldemort’s grave,” the show’s “bad guy” continues, the guide to his group of tourists of all ages.

The group passes through Greyfriars Cemetery, where graves bear names similar to those of several characters created by J.K. Rowling, although the author has never confirmed that they were inspired by her.

Kate Merson, 43, is visiting with her husband and two children. She has come to Edinburgh for professional reasons, but like many Americans, she is taking the opportunity to explore her Scottish roots and indulge her nine-year-old daughter’s craze.

At £20 ($25.50) per person, and for dozens of participants at a time, these hour-and-a-half guided tours through the Scottish capital's Gothic streets are well worth the money.

growing popularity
The Potter Trail, guided by Sam Thorne, ends on the much-photographed, multi-coloured Victoria Street, in front of two souvenir shops.

Priya Maru, a 27-year-old Indian woman living in Toronto, Canada, stands in line in the rain at one of them, along with fifteen other fans, willing to spend whatever it takes.

While she admits she can find all sorts of derivative products in Toronto, she points out that for her “it was symbolic to buy these products here, in the city of Harry Potter,” where J.K. Rowling wrote the saga that made her a billionaire.

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At one store, called Enchanted Galaxy, a plastic “magic” wand costs £40 ($51) and a limited edition figurine of a character from the films costs £650 ($831).

“Trading is going well, and Harry Potter is increasingly popular,” says chief commercial officer Monica Alsina, who declined to disclose the company’s turnover.

Although there have been no new Harry Potter films or books, in recent years the fantasy series has been kept alive with a successful video game, a London stage production, and the film “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” a story tied to the saga, while a television series is in the works.

Scotland Tourism Engine

“Harry Potter is a great driver of tourism in Scotland,” explains Jenny Steele, from the promotion agency Visit Scotland.

Tourism contributes £4 billion ($5.113 million) to the Scottish economy annually.

But fans of the young wizard also flock to England, to places like York, the Cotswolds, Oxford and London to discover filming locations.

The Warner Bros. Studios landmark has been visited by 19 million people since it opened twelve years ago, allowing it to gross over $1 billion.

The controversy over comments J.K. Rowling deemed transphobic has not affected sales at the moment.

Sam Thorne talks about the “betrayal”, because the Harry Potter world was seen as “welcoming to those who felt different”.

“We don't agree with that but we don't see any impact” on sales, says Monica Alsina.

Terry Alexander

"Award-winning music trailblazer. Gamer. Lifelong alcohol enthusiast. Thinker. Passionate analyst."

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