Films, delivered in a variety of venues, are obviously popular for viewers and competitions, but also for Economic Development offices. And, for good reason. Films attract tourists; they also offer the travel-dreamer fuel for planning.
Examples of what a film can do for tourism has been well documented, including in such far-apart places as Thailand and the state of North Carolina in the U.S.
According to writers in the February 2018 issue of the academic journal Social & Cultural Geography, the film “Lost in Thailand” in 2012 sold tickets valued at more than $200 million U.S. dollars. It also has become the highest-grossing homegrown film for the country. The film inspired tourism-related events in northern Thailand where it is set, including re-enactment of some of the film scenes on university campuses, in temples and around the city of Chiang Mai.
“Film-induced tourism is increasingly popular in the United States and globally,” according to the Southeastern Geographer Summer 2012 issue. A 1960s television show starring Andy Griffith and set in a North Carolina mountain town of Mt. Airy spawned an entire industry built around the theme that Mt. Airy, Griffith’s home town, was the town of Mayberry in “The Andy Griffith Show.” Griffith said his hometown was not the model for Mayberry, but apparently no one cares. The popularity of the TV show – which continues in reruns today – has enticed visitors to that area, especially since “Mayberry Days” celebration began in 1990. Visit Mayberry even has its own website.
“Film tourism is an important part of a state’s income, as visitors flock to their favorite celebrity’s hometown or where a particular movie was filmed. They book hotel rooms, visit museums and other points of interest and spend money in local businesses,” wrote author Lisa Iannucci in a January 2017 article for TravelPulse.com.
A November 2018 article in the U.S. edition of The Guardian noted that Scotland was preparing for a major influx of tourists because of the Netflix film, “The Outlaw King,” about the life of Robert the Bruce. The country already experiences expanded tourism from the “Outlander” TV drama series.
Film is one way to give the world a different look at a country not always at the forefront of tourism. In the 2018 competition, FilmFest had 16 tourism film winners. Among them was “Arz e Pakistan (Land of Pakistan)," directed by Ali Sohail Jaura. In his description of the project, Jaura explained its intent “was to promote both local and international tourism in the Northern regions of Pakistan, to make people aware of the environmental treasures so that it can be preserved, and bring about the positive and cultural image of Pakistan that is often neglected by the mainstream media.”
The popularity of videos and the accessibility to them through YouTube and other internet resources have boosted all types of films into roles as drivers of tourism. Perhaps the best example is how the television show “Game of Thrones” has affected tourism in Dubrovnik where it was shot. “The medieval-like context of the series highlights Dubrovnik's most attractive tourist assets such as the rich and preserved historic town center,” wrote Marina Tkalec, Ivan Zilic and Vedran Recher from the Institute of Economics in Zagreb. Their report, The Effect of Film Industry on Tourism: Game of Thrones and Dubrovnik, further states that “Croatian national statistics report that tourist arrivals to the Dubrovnik county increased by 37.9 percent in the period 2011–2015, accompanied by an increase in overnight stays by 28.5 percent.”
They concluded: “We find a robust and positive effect of filming the TV series in Dubrovnik on the number of tourist arrivals.” They also found “positive spillover effects on other counties and the whole country.”
Celebrity locations, locales found in literature, and beautiful photos inspired travel prior to the internet. Who hasn’t followed Ernest Hemingway’s footsteps through Paris based on his writings? Now new and greater visuals -- through mini-movies, basic tourist films and the more complex movie or television show -- urge people into strange lands.
US International Film & Video Festival is proud to be a part of helping films gain recognition.
By Sandra Brown Kelly, Media Manager