Magazine article Screen International

From 'Lord of the Rings' to 'Game of Thrones': The Rise of Film Tourism

Magazine article Screen International

From 'Lord of the Rings' to 'Game of Thrones': The Rise of Film Tourism

Article excerpt

We looks at how the positive effects of film tourism can be maximised by countries and states.

If the hills of Salzburg are alive with tourists, it's partly down to a movie. The Austrian city is said to attract 300,000 to 400,000 visitors a year for its The Sound Of Music tour, making the 1965 multiple Oscar winner a striking example of how film and television can drive tourism.

There are plenty more modern examples, from Notting Hill, the 1999 UK romantic comedy that, according to a 2014 study, has generated the equivalent of $26.3m (£24.9m) in online ad spend for London, through The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, which is largely credited with a 40% jump in New Zealand tourism between 2000 and 2006, to global hit TV series including Downton Abbey, Sherlock and Game Of Thrones (scroll down for more).

In the UK alone, according to a recent report for the BFI and other organisations, film tourism added $486m (£400m) to the 2013 national economy, and high-end TV tourism another $122m (£100m).

Only the beginning

While the statistics seem to confirm the efficacy of films and TV series as tourism drivers, they also suggest the full scope for screen tourism is untapped: a recent survey of members of the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) by New Zealand-based researcher Stefan Roesch showed that only 56% currently invest in film tourism opportunities, while 97% intend to do so within the next five years.

Film commissions and tourism agencies have plenty of work to do in learning how to make the most of screen tourism opportunities. "I don't think we've even begun to see the potential of it," says Martin Cuff, a South Africa-based consultant and former AFCI executive director.

"No one knew the potential of the show in terms of the size and scale and how it's seeped into the zeitgeist," says Moyra Lock, head of marketing, communications and audiences at government-backed Northern Ireland Screen, and an early screen tourism proponent.

Catching on to the potential "hasn't happened overnight", adds Lock, whose agency provides production funding to Game Of Thrones, though none of it tied to tourism. Northern Ireland Screen works with both Tourism Northern Ireland and Tourism Ireland, the travel promoter for all of Ireland, to leverage the popularity of the blockbuster fantasy series. "It has taken a while for the tourist boards to come round to how they can maximise the opportunities," she says. …

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