Michael Jackson’s death is a huge blow to London’s travel industry


Did you buy tickets or a travel package for Michael Jackson’s comeback concerts starting next month in London? Now comes the news that the superstar died this afternoon after he stopped breathing and was rushed to UCLA Medical Center from his nearby rented home, officials said.

In the biggest concert event of the summer — indeed, one of the biggest travel events — Jackson had 18 summer concerts planned in London through August at the O2 Arena, a hugely anticipated series that was expected to resurrect the star’s career. The shows were to begin July 13.

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In a sign of the singer’s never-ending popularity, tickets were reportedly sold out. On the resale market, tickets to August shows were selling for $1,600.

When seats first came on sale, news reports showed long lines at ticket windows and fans in tears when they couldn’t get tickets. Many fans planned summer vacations around the concerts, and the cancellation of shows would be a huge blow to London’s travel industry, which sold lodging and airfare packages based on the concerts.

The concerts were scheduled through March 6, 2010.

Jackson stood to earn $50 million for the O2 shows, called “This Is It”— $1 million per performance, not including revenue from merchandise sales and broadcast rights, according to concert organizers. The singer was considering options including pay-per-view and a feature film. But the real money would kick in after his final curtain call in London.

AEG, which set up the series, had proposed a three-year tour starting in Europe, then traveling to Asia and finally returning to the United States. But Jackson had committed only to the O2 engagement thus far.

Organizers estimate ticket sales for the global concerts might exceed $450 million. Such a rebound might have wiped out the star’s huge personal debt.