Tourism

May the force be with film tourism

Lea Sibbel/ DPA

Sometimes a film’s location makes viewers say “wow”, so it’s not surprising that audiences often remember a movie’s setting better than they do the actors.

Action-packed shots racing over majestic mountain peaks, for example, can trigger wanderlust in viewers.

Some travellers choose to holiday in another country specifically to see the places where their favourite film was shot.

Enter a new trend in the travel sector: Film tourism.

Many people want to see for real the locations they admired in films. At the same time, regions have come to realise that a film can become a powerful promotional tool. Here are some examples of these trends.

CROATIA: Thanks to the massive hit TV series Game of Thrones, such places as Dubrovnik, Split, Sibenik, Ston and the island of Lokrum are winning fame as the locations where the TV adventure-fantasy series was shot. Above all, Dubrovnik has become better known, the local tourism office reports.

More visitors, especially from the United States, Britain and Spain, have come to the city since the series went into production.

BRITAIN: Just say Harry Potter or James Bond and many locations in Britain immediately come to mind.

For Harry Potter fans, there are a lot of opportunities awaiting to see the original settings – for example taking a ride on Scotland’s Jacobite Steam Train, also known as the Hogwarts Express. Likewise, King’s Cross Station platform 9 3/4 in London is a must.

At Alnwick Castle, where Harry was filmed having his first lessons flying a broomstick, fans can attend a quidditch class. British tourism authorities say visitor numbers at the castle have surged by 230 per cent.

Likewise, locations of James Bond films and of “Downton Abbey” are veritable visitor magnets. According to the British Film Commission, one of 10 visitors to Britain come because they have seen the country in some film or other.

TUNISIA: The North African country draws in Star Wars fans. Andrea Philippi of the Tunisian tourism office in Germany notes: “Films, above all Star Wars, play an important role in Tunisia’s tourism, especially in the south of the country.” The film locations are so important for visitors that it was donations by film fans in 2013, along with government funds, that helped preserve the dune landscape at Nefta.

Besides Star Wars a number of other major films have been shot in Tunisia, including Indiana Jones and The English Patient.

MOROCCO: Although there are no official figures, it is widely believed that tourism has been given a boost thanks to Morocco’s emergence as an important film location, says Sonja Ludwig of the Moroccan tourism office in Germany.

Gladiator, starring Australia’s own Russell Crowe, Kingdom of Heaven and Alexander were all shot in Morocco. Travel companies have caught on to the desire among fans and are now offering excursions to the film locations.

NEW ZEALAND: Think The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to understand how films can be a tremendous boost for tourism and for what travellers seek out in the country as a destination, says Tourism New Zealand.

There is even a spillover effect to other fields. For example, Air New Zealand uses elves, orcs and other figures from the Tolkien books in its on-board safety instruction videos. Fans can also visit “Hobbiton” – the setting was rebuilt for visitors after the film was shot.

Amid all the positive aspects, there can also be a downside to the notoriety that films provide.

Media specialist Stefan Zimmermann cites Australia as an example. For a long time, so many horror films were shot there that many people in Britain were asking whether Australia wasn’t perhaps too dangerous a place to visit.

Then there was the case of the hugely successful Notting Hill, Zimmermann said. After a while, the deep-blue door of the house where the Hugh Grant character in the film lived that it had to be painted over, it was attracting such crowds.

Likewise, the bookshop where he worked eventually closed down. Many tourists were coming in and crowding it – but not buying any books.

Photo credit: istock


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