When Director Peter Jackson placed his Middle Earth slap bang in his homeland of New Zealand, The Lord of The Rings became the greatest destination marketing advert ever made.
By 2004, the Rings Trilogy had landed, and the Hobbit movies followed on a few years later. In 2004 alone, 6% of visitors to New Zealand – around 150k people – cited The Lord of the Rings as one of the main reasons for visiting New Zealand, generating for a spend of NZ$32.8m.
The Game of Thrones Effect on Tourism
When Game of Thrones arrived on our screens it blew everything else out of the water. As with Peter Jackson, fantasy found a footing in the real world and filming locations stretched across Europe, from Iceland to Croatia. However, it was Northern Ireland that truly stole the show. Game of Thrones hasn’t simply given the world another chance to look at what Northern Ireland has to offer, it has re-written its narrative.
By 2016, ‘Game of Thrones’ was worth £30m a year to Northern Ireland’s tourism sector and the local economy. Travelers wanted to experience where a group of imaginary characters thrived, died or survived. As with Scotland, visitors suddenly had context; GOT inspired them to visit the sites where the show was filmed.
> Hear Game of Thrones actor Anton Lesser narrate an audio tour of Battle, West Sussex, his hometown.
Outlander in Scotland
It’s clear that there is a growing appetite for screen-inspired tourism, the benefits of which can be felt in the UK. While the Scottish Highlands have for many years enjoyed starring roles in Hollywood blockbusters, including Highlander, Rob Roy and Braveheart, it’s the time-travelling series Outlander that has really captured hearts and minds all over the world.
With Scotland as a background that transcends time and geography, Outlander gives visitors a context for their visit and a point of reference to form their relationship with the country. The shows provide picturesque snapshots of the locations, inspiring viewers to book their next trips to discover the destination for themselves.
> Hear audio tour of Inverness, Scotland, created by the fans of Outlander
A Nuclear Explosion Creates A New Destination
HBO and Sky Atlantic had perfect timing with their programming: After the final season of Game of Thrones they dropped Chernobyl. Chernobyl has taken the small screen to an entirely new level. While Game of Thrones took us into the realms of escapism, the other pit us against our own humanity.
Trips to Chernobyl in Ukraine have exploded since the show came on. What drives visitors to go to Chernobyl is the need to understand what happened to people there and to experience the destruction first hand, rather than to sightsee from a detached perspective.
> Hear the Chernobyl audio tour.
Is Your Destination Ready for Screen Tourism ?
Set-jetters are destination advocates in the making. Not only will they share their experience with their friends and family, but also with other fans. With an avid audience, set-jetters are, in-fact, micro influencers.
Attracting visitors based on entertainment properties requires destinations to connect travelers through the filter of the TV show or movie. Destinations can enrich the fans’ experience with good storytelling that puts your destination, its culture and history within the context of the entertainment property that the fans are traveling to relive.
To borrow a sentiment from Kevin Costner and his Field of Dreams, ‘If you build it, they will come.’
Learn how Geotourist can extend the experience of an entertainment property (a book, movie, TV show) to your destination.