By the end of December 2021 the BBC were reporting that pandemic related deaths in the Royal Borough had reached 369. For the friends and relatives of these people the cost is, of course, immeasurable and our hearts go out to them.
Even those not directly affected by personal tragedy can see that the last year has hit this relatively prosperous town pretty hard. Closed stores on Peascod Street are a common sight, and empty streets rather than bustling thoroughfares are now the norm.
The sudden disappearance of tourists from our streets has obviously meant there is a price to pay. Local tour guide Chris Brown reported that his business all but dried up completely during 2021. But just how many fewer visitors has the town actually had? Is it possible to put an actual price on how Windsor has been affected?
The statistia.com website lists the figures for Windsor Castle entry and since most visitors do visit the castle, we can use this figure as a stand-in for visits to Windsor generally.
In the year 2019-2020 the castle attracted 1.592million visitors which was a 2% rise from the previous year.
Had 2020-21 been a normal year we would have expected around 1.624million visitors. The actual figure was just 104,000.
This drop of 93% was of course bad news for the Crown Estate, but for the wider community it was devastating.
According to windsor.gov.uk the tourism industry in the royal borough normally supports the equivalent of close to 10,000 full time jobs. A 93% reduction in visitor numbers will have put an enormous hole in the local economy; one that has meant the end for many businesses.
Government grants have helped, but as the dark days of winter draw ever deeper, many people who make their living from tourism or from servicing the tourism industry in Windsor are feeling ever less hopeful about their businesses surviving into 2022. Even proud old Windsor is feeling the pain of this pandemic.