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Promoting Destinations via Film Tourism: An Empirical Identification of Supporting Marketing Initiatives

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Film tourism is a growing phenomenon worldwide, fueled by both the growth of the entertainment industry and the increase in international travel. This article proposes a model for exploiting film tourism marketing opportunities. It identifies the optimum marketing factors that encourage film tourists to visit destinations that appear (or are depicted) in the movies. Factor analysis reveals four types of marketing activities in which destinations can engage to promote film tourism: proactive efforts to encourage producers and stu- dios to film at the location, efforts to generate media public- ity around the film and its location, marketing activities that promote the film location after production, and peripheral marketing activities that leverage film tourism potential. Results of a stepwise multiple regression analysis indicate a high correlation between film tourism success and one of the four factors: the proactive efforts of destinations that encour- age producers and studios to film at their location.
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LITERATURE REVIEW
According to Morgan and Pritchard (1998), placing a des-
tination in a film is the ultimate in tourism product place-
ment. Product placement is an emerging phenomenon, and
has been defined as the planned entries of products into movies
or television shows that may influence viewers’ product
beliefs and/or behaviors favorably (Balasubramanian 1994).
Its growth has been spurred by the diminishing effectiveness
of traditional advertising techniques (Kaikati and Kaikati
2004), and marketers are realizing that communications via
product placement can be more sophisticated, more targeted,
and more widely seen than traditional advertising methods
(Karrh, McKee, and Pardun 2003).
Limited research has been conducted on product place-
ment despite the growing use of this promotional method. Of
the dozen or so studies related to product placement, none
have looked at the placement of destinations in movies and its
influence on tourism. However, some of the findings do have
relevance for those interested in film tourism. In most of the
studies, respondents have a positive view toward product
placement and it seems to increase brand loyalty by validating
the purchase decisions of the consumer (Hart 2003). Research
confirms that product placement can have greater impact with
program audiences than is typically found with comparable
Promoting Destinations via Film Tourism:
An Empirical Identification of Supporting
Marketing Initiatives
SIMON HUDSON AND J. R. BRENT RITCHIE
Simon Hudson, PhD, is an associate professor in the Haskayne
School of Business at the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta,
Canada. Prior to working in academia, he worked in the tourism
industry in Europe. Dr. Hudson has published numerous journal
articles and book chapters from his work and has three books to his
name: Snow Business, Sport and Adventure Tourism, and Tourism
and Hospitality Marketing. He is known worldwide for his work in
the ski industry. Dr. Brent Ritchie holds the professorship of tourism
management in the Haskayne School of Business at the University
of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He serves as chair of the
university’s World Tourism Education and Research Centre and
was elected as the founding chair of the World Tourism Organization’s
Tourism Education Council in 2001. Dr. Ritchie also has extensive
professional and industry relationships. He has served as president
of the Travel and Tourism Research Association and the Travel
Industry Association of Alberta and as chair of the Calgary
Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Journal of Travel Research, Vol. 44, May 2006, 387–396
DOI: 10.1177/0047287506286720
© 2006 Sage Publications
Film tourism is a growing phenomenon worldwide, fueled
by both the growth of the entertainment industry and the
increase in international travel. This article proposes a
model for exploiting film tourism marketing opportunities. It
identifies the optimum marketing factors that encourage film
tourists to visit destinations that appear (or are depicted) in
the movies. Factor analysis reveals four types of marketing
activities in which destinations can engage to promote film
tourism: proactive efforts to encourage producers and stu-
dios to film at the location, efforts to generate media public-
ity around the film and its location, marketing activities that
promote the film location after production, and peripheral
marketing activities that leverage film tourism potential.
Results of a stepwise multiple regression analysis indicate a
high correlation between film tourism success and one of the
four factors: the proactive efforts of destinations that encour-
age producers and studios to film at their location.
Keywords: Film tourism; destination marketing; product
placement
The study of film tourism is relatively new in tourism
research. Sometimes called movie-induced or film-induced
tourism, film tourism is defined here as tourist visits to a des-
tination or attraction as a result of the destination’s being
featured on television, video, or the cinema screen. Falling
loosely under the umbrella of cultural tourism, film tourism
is a growing phenomenon worldwide, fueled by both the
growth of the entertainment industry and the increase in
international travel. The benefits of film tourism are becom-
ing increasingly apparent. Appealing to wide and diverse
markets, film tourism offers something for everyone, just
like the films themselves, and tourism organizations can use
films as springboards for marketing campaigns if the films
are seen as appropriate for the destination. Marketing oppor-
tunities are generated when the film is being premiered and
distributed as well as during each release window. Additional
businesses and services can be created through film tourism
that in turn can encourage the extension and strengthening of
the visitor season. This article proposes a model for exploiting
film tourism marketing opportunities and then reports on an
empirical study identifying the critical marketing success
factors that encourage film tourists to visit destinations around
the world.
advertising exposures (Karrh, McKee, and Pardun 2003), and
some researchers have found that a simple visual placement
in the background can be as effective as a highly integrated
placement (Russell 2002).
The measurement of product placement has been the
subject of much discussion, but researchers are beginning to
measure and track the effectiveness of product placement
(Atkinson 2004). Among product placement practitioners,
unaided recall and brand recognition are the two most pop-
ular means of assessing placements, though the tracking of
subsequent related sales or the measurement of trade or
general press coverage are methods growing in use (Karrh,
McKee, and Pardun 2003). The New Zealand Tourism Board
looked at the first The Lord of the Rings film as the equivalent
of a promotional piece and worked out what the exposure
would have cost to access commercially. Based on atten-
dances and making a range of assumptions, they estimated
the exposure was worth over US$41 million (New Zealand
Institute of Economic Research 2002).
Just as product placements will influence a viewer’s atti-
tude toward a brand, so too will films have an impact on des-
tination image if the location plays a part in a film. Because
destination images influence tourist behavior, a destination
must be favorably differentiated from its competition and pos-
itively positioned in the minds of consumers (Pike and Ryan
2004; Echtner and Ritchie 1991; Joppe, Martin, and Waalen
2001). Schofield (1996) suggested that contemporary tourists’
organic images of places are shaped through the vicarious con-
sumption of film and television without the perceptual bias of
promotional material. In support of this contention, Gundle
(2002) discussed how the 1960 hit film La Dolce Vita trans-
formed the image of Rome in Italy. In the minds of the public
worldwide, Rome became the city of sin and pleasure, of Liz
Taylor, Ava Gardner, and Frank Sinatra, of elegance and night-
clubs, of aristocrats and Latin lovers, of fast cars and stylish
intellectuals. The image, perpetuated in American films and
books, provided Roman tourist industries and fashion houses
with a resource that has lasted to this day. Roman glamour
became Italian glamour for the world.
Further empirical proof of how films can impact destina-
tion image came from Kim and Richardson (2003), who
employed an experimental design to assess the extent to
which viewing a specific film altered cognitive and affective
images of the place it depicted. They found that the 1995
movie Before Sunrise significantly affected some of the desti-
nation image components and interest in visiting Vienna in
Austria. However, as Croy and Walker (2003) have indicated,
more research is needed to assess the evaluative components
of image and to measure the effect films have on image.
Although no research studies have focused on the place-
ment of destinations in films, there is a growing body of
research related to film tourism generally (Beeton 2005). This
can be classified into four broad categories: (1) the influence
of film on the decision to travel (Urry 1990; Cohen 1986;
Riley and van Doren 1992; Riley, Baker, and van Doren 1998;
Tooke and Baker 1996; Sharp 2000; Busby and Klug 2001),
(2) film tourists themselves (Singh and Best 2004; Macionis
2004), (3) the impacts of film tourism on visitation numbers
and on residents (Busby, Brunt, and Lund 2003; Schofield
1996; Gundle 2002; Kim and Richardson 2003; Croy and
Walker 2003; Beeton 2001a, 2001b, 2004a, 2004b; Cousins
and Anderek 1993), and (4) destination marketing activi-
ties related to film tourism (Cohen 1986, Woodward 2000,
Grihault 2003, Frost 2004). It is beyond the scope of this
article to review all of this literature, and the focus of this arti-
cle will be on the latter category related to destination mar-
keting. However, it is clear from Table 1, which summarizes
some of the above research, that film and television can have
a very positive impact on tourism visits.
In general, an increase in visitor numbers can only bene-
fit a local economy. One of the major economic benefits and
factors of film tourism is that viewing film locations can
often be an all-year, all-weather attraction, thus alleviating
problems of seasonality (Beeton 2004a). Also, both films and
television have a wide socioeconomic appeal, potentially
broadening the base of the visitor market (Schofield 1996).
One of the interesting aspects of film tourism is that it can be
enduring. A film can continue to draw visitors year after year.
Riley, Baker, and van Doren (1998) found that although the
peak of interest comes after a film is released, a 54% increase
in visitation was evident at least 5 years later in the 12 films
they studied and images are often retained for a long time.
These enduring effects would explain the success of some
destinations that have redeveloped locations to make film
connections more apparent and boosted tourism even when
the film is not new (Grihault 2003).
However, there are a range of potential drawbacks to film
tourism. Riley, Baker, and van Doren (1998) say that even
before the release of a film, prices may have been driven up by
the influx of production crews. When the tourists do arrive,
Beeton (2001a) suggests that by creating a new, intrusive style
of tourism, the traditional budget holiday-maker is disenfran-
chised. Tooke and Baker (1996) propose that very often, the
film location will not have the carrying capacity to cope with
large increases in visitors. This could result in a number of
possible undesirable consequences, such as increased vehicle
traffic, pedestrian congestion, and loss of privacy and local
facilities for locals. The destruction of the natural environment
is also a concern. For example, the filming of The Beach and
the consequent film tourism resulted in extensive environmen-
tal damage to Phi Phi Lae Island in Southern Thailand (Cohen
2005). Another problem that could occur is that when the loca-
tion appears different than how it is portrayed in the film, there
may be a resulting loss of visitor satisfaction (Beeton 2001b).
FILM TOURISM SUCCESS FACTORS
Despite the growing body of research relating to film
tourism, no attempt has been made to identify the critical
factors behind this fast-growing phenomenon. Figure 1,
therefore, is the first theoretical model to present the key
influences on film tourism. The model suggests that film
tourism will depend on the following five factors: destina-
tion marketing activities, destination attributes, film-specific
factors, film commission and government efforts, and loca-
tion feasibility. The focus of this article is on the left side of
the model, the destination marketing activities related to
film tourism. Despite suggestions that destination marketers
have neglected this very effective form of publicity (Cohen
1986), a review of the secondary research related to film
tourism suggests that some destinations have leveraged the
visibility that films provide and benefited by showing a sig-
nificant rise in visitor numbers following a film’s release.
The 31 marketing activities in the model are based on this
388 MAY 2006
secondary research. The model suggests that destination
marketing organizations (DMOs) can engage in a variety of
marketing activities both before and after release of a film,
and these are described below.
MARKETING ACTIVITIES BEFORE RELEASE
Despite the fact that DMOs often cannot be selective of
films being produced, they can be proactive in promoting their
locations to film producers. Most destinations have a short-
term focus that facilitates film production, concentrating on
the associated economic impacts (Croy and Walker 2003), but
some are becoming active in encouraging producers to make
films in their region to benefit from the long-term tourism
impacts. DMOs in Britain, Kansas, and Singapore are exam-
ples. VisitBritain has been targeting Indian film producers for
some time in the belief that they can be persuaded to use
British locations for Bollywood films and thereby generate
significant economic benefits for Britain’s tourism industry
(Woodward 2000). In the United States, Kansas’s Travel and
Tourism Development Division spends US$1.2 million annu-
ally on tourism and film promotion. And the Singapore
Tourism Board announced a 3-year US$7 million scheme in
2004 to lure leading international filmmakers and broadcasters
to produce their work there. Approved screen projects that
showcase Singapore’s appeal receive special help with resources
and work permits (Jeffery 2004).
Some destinations appoint public relations specialists to
place their regions in films. Canada and the Bahamas, for
example, have identified film tourism as a marketing oppor-
tunity and employ Weber Shandwick, one of the biggest
public relations firms in the world, to get maximum expo-
sure for their destinations in television and film (Weber
Shandwick 2005). Chicago’s Office of Film and Entertainment
Industries also has successfully increased the number of
films made in that city by employing a product placement
specialist (The Economist 1998). At the preproduction stage,
it is also important to be involved in location scouting. The
JOURNAL OF TRAVEL RESEARCH 389
TABLE 1
FILM TOURISM IMPACTS
Film or TV Series Location Impact on Visitor Numbers or Tourist Revenue
Braveheart Wallace Monument, Scotland 300% increase in visitors year after release
Heartbeat Goathland, North Yorkshire, England Three times the number of normal visitors in 1991
Deliverance Rayburn County, Georgia 20,000 film tourists a year Gross revenues $2 to 3m
Dances with Wolves Fort Hayes, Kansas 25% increase compared with 7% for previous 4 years
Close Encounters Devils Tower, Wyoming 75% increase in 1975 20% visit now because of the film
of the Third Kind
Thelma and Louise Arches National Monument in Moab, Utah 19.1% increase in 1991
Field of Dreams Iowa 35,000 visits in 1991 Steady increase every year
Dallas Southfork Ranch, Dallas 500,000 visitors per year
The Lord of the Rings New Zealand 10% increase every year 1998 to 2003 from UK
Steel Magnolias Louisiana 48% increase year after release
Last of the Mohicans Chimney Rock Park, North Carolina 25% increase year after release
The Fugitive Dillsboro, North Carolina 11% increase year after release
Little Women Orchard House, Concord, Massachusetts 65% increase year after release
Bull Durham Durham, North Carolina 25% increase in attendance year after release
Harry Potter Various locations in U.K. All locations saw an increase of 50% or more
Mission: Impossible 2 National parks in Sydney 200% increase in 2000
Gorillas in the Mist Rwanda 20% increase in 1998
Crocodile Dundee Australia 20.5% increase in U.S. visitors 1981 to 1988
The Beach Thailand 22% increase in youth market in 2000
All Creatures Yorkshire Dales Generated £5m for Yorkshire Dales
Great and Small
To the Manor Born Cricket St Thomas, Leisure Park, England 37% increase between 1978 to 1980
Middlemarch Stamford, Lincolnshire, England 27% increase in 1994
Four Weddings and The Crown Hotel, Amersham, England Fully booked for at least 3 years
a Funeral
Mrs. Brown Osborne House, Isle of Wight, U.K. 25% increase
Notting Hill Kenwood House, England 10% increase in 1 month
Saving Private Ryan Normandy, France 40% increase in American tourists
Sense and Sensibility Saltram House, England 39% increase
Pride and Prejudice Lyme Park in Cheshire, UK 150% increase in visitors
Cheers Location in Boston $7m in unpaid promotional advertising each year
Miami Vice Miami 150% increase in German visitors 1985 to 1988
Forrest Gump Savannah, Georgia 7% increase in tourism
Troy Canakkale, Turkey 73% increase in tourism
Captain Corelli’s Cephalonia, Greece 50% increase over 3 years
Mandolin
Sources: Riley and van Doren (1992);Tooke and Baker (1996); Grihault (2003); Croy and Walker (2003); Cousins and Anderek
(1993); Busby, Brunt and Lund (2003); Riley, Baker, and van Doren (1998).
Swiss Tourist Board will pay all the scouting expenses for
top Bollywood directors, as Bollywood films made in
Switzerland have stimulated incoming tourism from India
(Mehta 2004).
At the preproduction stage, a destination can negotiate
credits for being used in the film. In 2005, marketers from
Yukon Tourism and Culture partnered with French and
Italian distributors of the film Le Dernier Trappeur. Yukon’s
tourism marketing branch negotiated credits to appear right
at the beginning of the film, making it clear to viewers that
the film was shot in the Yukon. Together with industry partners,
including the federal government, more than CDN$60,000
was invested to co-brand Yukon and Canadian travel desti-
nations with the film’s distribution in Europe (Raycroft
2005). There also is increasing interest among consumers in
seeing the making of the films. This provides another oppor-
tunity for destinations to get involved in marketing their
locations. New Zealand, for example, included a destination
guide with The Lord of the Rings boxed set that indicated
where different scenes were shot.
390 MAY 2006
FIGURE 1
FILM TOURISM: A MODEL FOR EXPLOITING FILM MARKETING OPPORTUNITIES
Appoint an executive or public relations specialist to deal with
film studios directly
Actively promote the destination to film studios
Offer grants and tax credits to encourage studios to use
the location
Be actively involved in location scouting
Plan carefully to maximize the impacts of post-production
exposure
Carefully assess a film’s merit in terms of its promotional value
Negotiate end credits for the destination
Negotiating and/or produce a "making of the film" feature
Engage the film’s stars to promote the film location
Provide images for media or tour operators to use in
promotions (on cd rom or Web site)
Ensure media coverage of the film mentions the film location
Invite travel media to film location
Sponsor the film directly
Plan activities to promote other tourism sectors such as art,
crafts, food, wine, music, and fashion
Invite travel media to special release of the film
Post signage and interpretation at the location
Sell film memorabilia
Replicate or maintain film icons/sites/scenes/ sets to maintain
authenticity
Host events that continue the pull of the film beyond
its natural audience peak
Develop a dedicated Web site for potential tourists
Post links on Web site to film tours run by local tour operators
Engage in joint promotional activity with inbound tour operators
Package additional attractions to lengthen tourist stay
Work collectively with other public organizations and tourist
authorities to promote film locations
Promote hotels and guest houses that were used in films
Engage in joint promotional activity with film companies
Create electronic links to the destination on the film Web site
Have guided tours and /or film walks
Produce film and site maps for tourists
Create exhibitions or displays of memorabilia from the film
Attract continuous media attention to the location at each
release window (dvd etc.)
Scenery
Sets
Backdrop
Icons
Awareness
Brand
The success of the film
Identifiable and accessible
locations
Relevance of the story to
the location /clear link
Amount of exposure/length
of time on the screen
An image tourists want to
explore or discover
A film location that has an
emotional attachment
Untainted environments
A location that has a
physical icon that viewers
can identify with
Lobbying
Tax breaks
Scouting services
Dedicated Web sites
Active promotion
Resources
Cost
Taxes
Labor
Expertise
FILM TOURISM
Before Release
After Release
DESTINATION MARKETING ACTIVITIES DESTINATION ATTRIBUTES
FILM-SPECIFIC FACTORS
FILM COMMISSIONS &
GOVERNMENT EFFORTS
LOCATION
During production of a film—especially one that is high
profile—there are many opportunities to generate publicity
for a location. Working with the producer’s publicist through-
out the film production process is one way to ensure con-
sistent messaging about the location and its merits as a
destination. During the filming of The Lord of the Rings, for
example, media clippings mentioned that the film was being
shot in New Zealand, providing important early linkage
between the film and the location. The film’s stars also pro-
vided endorsement of New Zealand, heaping praise on the
island and helping to promote everything from Wellington’s
fashion to its cafés (Zukowski 2003). VisitBritain works hard
to get endorsements from Bollywood actors for British loca-
tions, recognizing that they can add tremendous kudos to a
destination and bring it higher up on the agenda of must-see
destinations for many Indians and Asians (Woodward 2000).
Publicity also can be generated around the activities of the
actors while on location. During the making of Captain
Corelli’s Mandolin, publicity shots featuring the two main
stars (Nicolas Cage and Penélope Cruz) were flashed around
the world, raising the profile of Cephalonia, the location of the
film, considerably. The couple allegedly had an affair, generat-
ing even more publicity (Ward 2001). Film actors also are
used after production of a film to promote a destination. The
Australian Tourism Commission used Paul Hogan in its ads
for some years following the success of Crocodile Dundee (as
did Jersey, Channel Islands, with Bergerac’s John Nettles).
DMOs occasionally develop marketing partnerships and
prepare marketing material in advance of a film’s release.
Early in 2005, VisitBritain collaborated with Sony Pictures
and Columbia Pictures in advance of the release of Closer, a
movie filmed in London starring Jude Law, Julia Roberts,
and Clive Owen. On the VisitBritain Web site, visitors could
download a Closer movie map that showed the “many iconic
London locations used in filming” (VisitBritain 2005).
Locations and attractions used in the film also collaborated
in the marketing initiative. The London Aquarium, for example,
had a printable 20% discount voucher on the side of the
map. The VisitBritain site also had a direct link to Sony
Pictures, which, in turn, was advertising the Closer movie
map on its home page.
MARKETING ACTIVITIES AFTER RELEASE
During and after release of a film, media attention can be
attracted to the film location. The Tourism Authority of
Thailand (TAT), for example, heavily advertised its attrac-
tions during release of the film The Beach (Grihault 2003).
The marketing campaign included a substantial amount of
joint activity with 20th Century Fox and aimed to capitalize
on the expected further popularity of Thai beaches in the
wake of the film. In addition to advertising heavily in cine-
mas, TAT sent United Kingdom journalists and travel agents
on familiarization trips, and awareness campaigns included
financing a holiday prize on a BBC television game show
with a quiz themed around The Beach.
Promoting the destination during the screening of a film
is another way to attract attention to a destination. The
Scottish Tourist Board distributed direct-response postcard
adverts in cinemas that were screening Braveheart, invit-
ing viewers to send for information on Braveheart Country
(Grihault 2003). Branding a destination around a movie like
this is quite common. The district of Hambleton in North
Yorkshire, for example, branded itself Herriott Country,
developing The World of James Herriott Museum following
the success of All Creatures Great and Small. And Brontë
Country in the United Kingdom still runs trade and press
familiarization visits specifically based on the theme and its
film and TV dramas (Brontë Country 2005).
The period of time following a film’s release is when many
DMOs get involved in marketing activities related to film
tourism. At this stage, the challenge for DMOs is to convert the
audience’s interest in a film into a commitment for a future
visit and capitalize on additional visitors brought through film.
Marketing opportunities are generated at every release win-
dow (cinema, video/DVD rental and purchase, pay-per-view
television, and free television). Traditionally, this cycle lasts a
couple of years, although this may get shorter as Hollywood
capitalizes on the success of DVD sales by bringing them to
the public earlier (Buckley 2004). However, it is not uncom-
mon for even a moderately successful film to have a shelf life
in excess of 25 years (Lazarus 1994). For example, the little
town of Clayton, Georgia, continues to bask in the attention it
received from the adaptation of James Dickey’s celebrated
novel Deliverance. So successful was tourism following the
film that the state of Georgia created its own Georgia Film and
Videotape Office, which continued to attract films, most
notably Driving Miss Daisy and Fried Green Tomatoes.
Collaborative campaigns with the film industry are a pow-
erful way to induce film tourists (Grihault 2003). DMOs are
beginning to forge relationships with film commissions to
track productions and film releases so the organizations are in
a position to act as soon as they see the signs of film tourism.
Executives at VisitBritain attempt to plan with a studio at least
12 months in advance of a film’s release date. In the Bahamas,
where the film commission is under the auspices of the
Ministry of Tourism, the ministry is involved immediately
after it receives a script. It invested US$16 million on the
recent film After the Sunset, starring Pierce Brosnan, to ensure
maximum exposure for the island. The Bahamas realized the
potential of promoting tourism through films after the Beatles
filmed “Help!” there in 1964. Now it gets involved in films at
the outset. The Australian Tourism Commission (ATC) also is
very proactive in forging relationships with the film industry.
Recently, it collaborated with Disney on Finding Nemo, being
the first DMO to try promotion through an animated film.
Movie maps have been found to be successful as part of a
film tourism marketing campaign. VisitBritain produced its
first movie map campaign in 1996, sponsored by Vauxhall.
The movie map featured 200 film and TV locations around
Britain from 60 years of British film history and quickly
became VisitBritain’s most successful printed product. It gen-
erated extensive media coverage both at home and overseas,
prompting people to discover different parts of Britain as they
followed in the footsteps of their screen heroes (Demetriadi
1996). Other destinations that have produced movie maps for
various film locations include Seattle, New York, Australia,
and Mississippi. Others have promoted movie maps and loca-
tion guides for specific films. In 2004, the Santa Barbara
Conference and Visitors Bureau produced Sideways—The
Map, a guide to the film locations of Sideways, even before
the film was released. Within weeks of the premiere, visitors
eager to see the diners, hotels, and wineries used in the film
purchased 10,000 copies of the guide (Sherwin 2004).
JOURNAL OF TRAVEL RESEARCH 391
Other marketing activities can include guided tours and
film walks. A recent travel magazine listed 25 film tourism
destinations with detailed information about tour packages
developed just for film tourists (Arthur Frommer’s Budget
Travel Magazine 2004). There are numerous examples of
such tours. In California, a local tour company capitalized on
the success of the movie Sideways, mentioned above, by cre-
ating a popular Sideways tour. Even before the Nicolas Cage
film National Treasure was released, the Washington, D.C.,
tourism Web site was advertising a National Treasure Tour—
a self-guided tour that followed in the footsteps of the actor
(Washington, D.C., Convention and Tourism Corporation
2005). Journey Latin America, a tour operator in the United
Kingdom, also preempted the film Motorcycle Diaries by
organizing a 3-week Motorcycle Diaries tour from Buenos
Aires to Lima. After Harry Potter, several tour operators set
up to show visitors around the many movie locations featured
in the film, and the James Bond films have spurred many
imaginative packages from tour operators (Grihault 2003).
Finally, in New Zealand, there are a number of The Lord of
the Rings–related tours, such as a Lord of the Rings flight with
Nelson Helicopters, a drive around Lord of the Rings country
with Nomad Safaris, and tours to Hobbiton in Waikato.
Hotels, guest houses, attractions, and museums used in
films are often promoted to the public to generate tourism.
The Crown Hotel at Amersham, England, makes a point of
promoting the very room used by stars Hugh Grant and
Andie MacDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral. In
Cephalonia, Greece, a local woman still advertises her apart-
ment as the location for the alleged affair between Nicolas
Cage and Penélope Cruz during the filming of Captain
Corelli’s Mandolin. On the Greek island of Mykonos,
tourists can take a room at the Manoulas Beach Hotel, scene
of the film Shirley Valentine. And in Tunisia, film tourists
can stay at the hotel used as the location of Luke Skywalker’s
childhood home in Star Wars (Jeffery 2004). Museums are
also often used to promote the history behind a particular
film. The Istanbul Archaeology Museum, for example, reopened
its Ancient Troy exhibit after 9 years of closure to respond
to tourist demand after the release of the US$200 million
blockbuster Troy in 2004.
Finally, having a dedicated film Web site that links the
film to locations and location tours also is deemed important
(Croy and Walker 2003). Internet linking of film to place
was emphasized in New Zealand, where Tourism New
Zealand developed part of its Web site specifically promot-
ing The Lord of the Rings and its film sites throughout New
Zealand. After the 2002 Academy Awards and a series of ads
announcing New Zealand as best supporting country, the
nation’s tourism Web site had more than 1 billion hits within
a year (Zukowski 2003).
OBJECTIVES
Despite the evidence presented above, many tourism orga-
nizations have been slow to tap the potential benefits of film
tourism. The impacts of film tourism still appear to be under-
appreciated by destinations even though they can be long last-
ing and have significant long-term economic and social effects.
One reason could be that there is little or no guidance for
DMOs wishing to capitalize on this fast-growing phenome-
non. Very little research has been conducted related to film
tourism, and more research is required at a destination level to
fully understand the potential of film tourism. The main objec-
tive of this article, therefore, was to identify the critical mar-
keting factors that help attract film tourists to destinations. The
focus of the article was on the relative importance of the mar-
keting activities on the left side of the film-tourism model
(Figure 1) and how those marketing activities relate to attract-
ing film tourists. In other words, what are DMOs around the
world doing to attract film tourists? Understanding the most
important determinants of film tourism success would be of
major practical significance for DMOs.
METHODOLOGY
An online survey was developed to achieve the research
objectives. Researchers are still experimenting with online sur-
veys, and there are no conclusive guidelines on the strengths
and weaknesses of online research. Comparative studies have
shown that online surveys result in higher response rates and
are cheaper to administer, especially for larger sample sizes
(Dillman 2000; Cobanoglu, Warde, and Moreo 2001; Yun
2000), even if initial costs are higher than other survey meth-
ods. Other advantages are the relative speed and flexibility of
online surveys and the potential of reaching a large and grow-
ing audience on the Internet. The anonymity of Web-based sur-
veys also provides a comfort level that cannot be achieved with
traditional methods such as mail, telephone, and mall-intercept
surveys. As a result, Web-based surveys tend to draw more
honest responses than other types of surveys (Rubin 2000).
Web surveys also provide many more options for the designer,
far exceeding the relatively limited design features of tradi-
tional mail surveys (Couper, Traugott, and Lamais 2001).
Finally, online surveys are dynamic in the sense that a Web site
can dynamically provide statistical results of the survey—even
on a daily or hourly basis.
The online survey was divided into five sections. The
first part asked respondents to indicate on a Likert-type scale
of 1 to 5 how important each of the 31 marketing activities
in Figure 1 was for generating film tourism. Secondly, they
were asked to comment on their degree of success in attract-
ing film tourists, how much they spent on these marketing
efforts, and whether they had seen an increase in visitor
numbers as a result of their efforts in promoting film
tourism. If they did not make an effort to develop film
tourism, they were asked why. The third part asked respon-
dents to indicate how important they perceived the other
factors in Figure 1 were for the success of film tourism, and
part 4 of the questionnaire inquired about their perceptions
of the relative benefits and drawbacks of film tourism, the
list developed from previous research referred to earlier in
this article. The last section collected details about the char-
acteristics of the respondents and their DMOs.
The survey was piloted with 10 DMOs worldwide, and
based on their feedback, the survey was further refined.
Subjects then were recruited with a personal e-mail that
directed them to a Web site to complete the survey. This
approach was adopted because large e-mailing lists work
better with some degree of personalization (Ray and Tabor
2003). An e-mail address list of 490 DMOs worldwide that
had attracted film tourists in the past was compiled from a
variety of secondary sources, including the The Worldwide
Guide to Movie Locations by Tony Reeves, 10 copies of
392 MAY 2006
which were used as incentives for DMOs to complete the
survey. The survey was live for 2 months, and two follow-up
e-mails were sent during this time to encourage respondents
to complete the survey. In total, 140 useable responses were
collected, giving a response rate of 28%. The data were
analyzed using SPSS for Windows.
RESULTS
Responding DMOs were mainly from the United States
(37%), Canada (30%), and the United Kingdom (18%). The
remaining 15% were from other countries around the world.
Over a third represented a city or town (38%), 18% were state
or province DMOs, and the remainder were national, rural or
parish destination organizations. A large proportion (38%)
had operating annual budgets between US$1 million and
$5 million, 20% had budgets more than US$5 million, and
the remaining 42% had budgets of under US$1 million.
Nearly all the respondents (96%) indicated that they could
be more proactive with film tourism, with the main con-
straint being a lack of resources. However, 60% said they
had seen an increase in visitor numbers because of their
efforts to promote film tourism, with the majority of these
DMOs (78%) collaborating with film offices. Of those that
had seen an increase in film tourists, only 18% measured the
impacts of film tourism at their destination.
From the destination marketing perspective, the respon-
dents indicated there were significant benefits of attracting
film tourists to their destinations. The three main benefits are a
stronger destination image or brand (M=4.43), positive eco-
nomic impacts (M=4.41), and higher tourist visitation
(M=4.26). Preservation of sites and locations as well as
improvements to infrastructure were also noted as important.
Respondents were notably less concerned about the negative
impacts of film tourism. Specific drawbacks in generating film
tourism showing a moderate level of importance are the dif-
ference in location appearance leading to visitor dissatisfaction
(M=2.90), negative environmental impacts (M=2.75), and
increased traffic and crowding (M=2.72). In terms of the other
factors in Figure 1 that contributed to film tourism success
(apart from destination marketing activities), DMOs felt that
film commission efforts (M=4.25) and destination-specific
factors (M=4.23) were the most important. These factors
weighed slightly more heavily than film-specific factors
(M=4.03), including the overall success of the film, and the
regulatory environment (M=3.91).
Principal component factor analysis was conducted on
the 31 marketing variables in Figure 1. Four factors were
extracted with eigenvalues equal to or greater than 1.00, and
they accounted for 63% of the variance (see Table 2). The
internal consistency of the variables was evaluated using
Cronbach’s alpha coefficients. Generally, those with .70 and
above are considered acceptable values (Nunnally 1978). As
can be seen in Table 2, all four factors had Cronbach’s alpha
values over .70, suggesting acceptable levels of internal
consistency for each scale.
Factor 1, with a composite mean of 3.21, consists of mar-
keting activities that promote the film locations themselves.
The most popular activity in this factor (M=3.83) is work-
ing collectively with public organizations and tourist organi-
zations to promote film locations. Factor 2, the most important
as far as DMOs are concerned (composite mean of 3.47),
contains activities related to generating media publicity
about the film and its location. Of these activities, the most
prevalent are ensuring that media coverage mentions the
film location (M=3.95), providing images for the media or
tour operators (M=3.70), and negotiating end credits for the
destination (M=3.56). Factor 3 contains peripheral market-
ing activities that leverage film tourism potential, such as
planning activities to promote other tourism sectors (M=
3.22) and engaging in joint promotional activities with film
companies (M=3.16). However, this factor is the least
important for DMOs, with a composite mean of 2.73.
Finally, Factor 4 consists of the proactive efforts of DMOs
to encourage producers to film at the location. Actively pro-
moting the destination to film studios (M=3.61) and being
involved in location scouting (M=3.59) were particularly
important activities as perceived by DMOs.
Correlations between the four-factor model and the level of
success in developing film tourism were examined. Results
indicated a significant correlation between perceived success
and Factor 1 (r=0.177, p=.048) and Factor 4 (r=0.236,
p=.008). Destination marketing organizations were more
likely to be successful developing film tourism if they were
first proactive in encouraging producers to film in their loca-
tions and then proactive in promoting the film location after
release of the film. Results of a stepwise multiple regression
analysis of the level of success with film tourism with the four
factors as potential predictors resulted in a significant model
(F=7.26, p<.001, adjusted R-squared =.048), with Factor 4
being the only significant predictor (r=0.189, t=2.696,
p=.008). This indicates that as Factor 4 increases, so does the
level of success with film tourism. Further stepwise multiple
regression analysis of the level of film tourism success with all
31 marketing variables as potential predictors resulted in a sig-
nificant model (F=8.18, p<.001, adjusted R-squared =
0.118), with the following two activities being significant pre-
dictors: appointing a public relations firm (r=0.336, t=3.383,
p=.000) and being involved in location scouting (r=0.236, t=
3.383, p=.008). Finally, independent sample ttests indicated
a significant relationship between success and two other vari-
ables from the survey: those that collaborated with film offices
(t[138] =2.488, p=.014) and those that measured the impact
of film tourism on visitation (t[82] =2.473, p=.017).
IMPLICATIONS
The results indicate that some marketing activities are
significantly more successful than others in attracting film
tourists. Targeting filmmakers proactively is clearly impor-
tant at the preproduction stage, and in particular, appointing
a public relations firm and being involved in location scout-
ing. This supports a recent government report in New
Zealand sponsored by the film industry that suggested that
getting on board at the outset of a film production is cru-
cial for destinations (New Zealand Institute of Economic
Research 2002). The report said the ability to recognize pro-
motional opportunities and act in anticipation of demand
is critical to maximizing benefits. Hiring a public relations
agency such as Weber Shandwick, which has a Destination:
Entertainment Marketing program, is one option. Another is
to offer Hollywood or producers’ tours, which have been
very successful for some destinations. Such sales-focused
initiatives should be conducted by DMOs on a regular basis.
JOURNAL OF TRAVEL RESEARCH 393
DMOs also should be offering informative and attractive
scouting trips to filmmakers.
At the preproduction stage, DMOs should collaborate
more with film commissions because this correlated highly
with film tourism success, supporting previous research
(Grihault 2003). Destinations could even make films or TV
shows as a partnership, giving them more control over what
productions are made at their location. An increasing number
of marketers, such as Coca-Cola, BMW, and Ford, have
adopted the role of program producer themselves. There is no
reason why destinations cannot be more active in the pro-
duction of films (as they have been in the Bahamas).
Another significant contributor to film tourism success is
the group of marketing activities promoting the film loca-
tions themselves. Although DMOs consider the generation of
publicity to be the most important contributing factor for film
tourism, they may want to consider putting more effort into
having guided tours or film walks, promoting hotels and
houses used in films, packaging attractions to lengthen stays,
and producing film and site maps for tourists. These activi-
ties seem to have more influence in attracting film tourists.
This would respond to the apparent increasing desire of film
tourists to visit icons or attractions that they have seen in
films (Riley, Baker, and van Doren 1998).
The key constraint to initiating many of these marketing
activities is money. Respondents indicated that financial con-
straints, more than anything else, prevented them from being
more proactive with film tourism. In fact, many DMOs may
argue that placing promotional money behind film tourism
does not result in any guaranteed return. They often have to
struggle with limited financial and human resources and find
it difficult to keep pace with the emergence of innovative
advertising strategies (Gretzel, Yuan, and Fesenmaier 2000).
However, an increasing number of marketers, frustrated by
the waste and the inability to generate measurable results, are
moving away from traditional advertising methods toward
new communication concepts like product placement (Kaikati
and Kaikati 2004). It is time for destinations to be more inno-
vative in their marketing. The exposure a film gives a city,
province, or country is an advertisement viewed by poten-
tially millions of people, an audience that cannot be reached
through traditional tourism promotions.
394 MAY 2006
TABLE 2
RESULTS OF FACTOR ANALYSIS
Scale Item Factor Loading Mean Composite Mean Explained Variance Alpha
Factor 1: Promoting film locations 3.21 18.33 .92
Have guided tours and/or film walks .80 3.10
Promote hotels and guest houses used in films .76 3.39
Produce film and site maps for tourists .72 3.06
Develop a dedicated Web site for potential tourists .70 3.00
Engage in joint promotions with tour operators .69 3.28
Package attractions to lengthen tourist stay .69 3.54
Post links on Web site to film tours .68 3.05
Create exhibits or displays of film memorabilia .56 2.67
Work with other organizations to promote locations .52 3.83
Factor 2: Generating media publicity 3.47 17.85 .92
Provide images for media or tour operators .77 3.70
Ensure media coverage mentions film location .73 3.95
Invite travel media to film location .68 3.33
Invite travel media to special release of the film .65 3.16
Assess a film’s merit in terms of its promotional value .62 3.23
Maximize the impacts of postproduction exposure .57 3.41
Create links to destination on the film Web site .48 3.48
Negotiate end credits for the destination .45 3.56
Factor 3: Leveraging the film 2.73 16.77 .91
Engage the film’s stars to promote the film location .67 3.10
Replicate or maintain film icons/sites/scenes/sets .64 2.70
Post signage and interpretation at the location .61 2.75
Sell film memorabilia .58 2.16
Attract media attention at each release window .57 3.04
Host events that continue the pull of the film .56 2.85
Produce a “making of the film” feature .55 2.41
Engage in promotional activity with film companies .48 3.16
Sponsor the film directly .46 1.90
Plan activities to promote other tourism sectors .40 3.22
Factor 4: Encouraging studios to film in location 3.23 10.07 .74
Be actively involved in location scouting .74 3.59
Actively promote the destination to film studios .68 3.61
Appoint an executive or PR specialist .67 3.07
Offer grants and tax credits .53 2.64
Note: Respondents were asked to indicate how important the above activities were for film tourism success on a 5-point Likert-scale
where 1 =
not important
and 5 =
very important
.
This article also has highlighted the importance of mea-
suring the results of promotional activities. Measurement of
the impact of film tourism needs to be a key development in
the move toward embracing the opportunity film tourism pre-
sents, a suggestion made by previous researchers (Cohen
1986; Tooke and Baker 1996). The results of this article show
that very few DMOs are measuring the impact of film tourism,
despite the fact that this activity correlated with film tourism
success. With time, research, and expertise, the measurement
of film tourism should be integrated into current visitor
research on brand awareness and visitor motivation.
CONCLUSIONS
This study is not without its limitations. The results are
representative of a group of 140 DMOs mainly from North
America and the United Kingdom. The DMOs’ perceived
success in attracting film tourists may not correlate with
actual success, and there may be marketing activities in which
they engage that were not included in this article. It should
also be acknowledged that film tourism is a complex and
dynamic concept, and success depends on a number of factors
outside the control of a destination. It was beyond the scope
of this study to explore these in any depth. Clearly, further
research is needed to examine these and other factors relating
to film tourism. There is also a need for more research into the
psychological and behavioral aspects of film tourism. Many
variables may affect a film’s impact on viewers’ attitudes
toward a destination, and therefore, on tourism. Reactions to
these variables must be tested. It would be extremely benefi-
cial to construct an operational model to estimate the effects
(both in terms of visitor numbers and spending) of deciding
to use a particular location for film or television. The model
could predict the size of the effect depending on the audience
and also could calculate the potential value and the costs of a
film or TV series to the proposed location. Such research
could explore further the visitation impacts of various movie
genres, various movie locations, and different icons.
This article has shown that in an increasingly competi-
tive and crowded marketplace, destination placement in films
and TV shows is an attractive marketing vehicle that increases
awareness, enhances destination image, and results in sig-
nificant increases in tourism numbers, succeeding where
traditional marketing efforts cannot. Film tourism offers des-
tinations the opportunity to generate significant incremental
revenue, tourist visits, and economic development. Based on
a thorough literature review and an international survey of
destinations worldwide, this article has provided valuable
insight into this relatively new phenomenon.
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The fantasy series Game of Thrones (2011–2019) has become a global pop-cultural phenomenon with a reach far beyond the television screen. Through extensive on-location filming, the series has linked its diegetic world of Westeros and Essos to countless heritage sites across Northern Ireland, Croatia, Spain, Iceland, Malta and Morocco, overcoding them with their on-screen identities through narratives and special effects. Fictional locations such as ‘Winterfell’ or ‘King’s Landing’ have since become popular tourist destinations, leading to an emergence of countless tours, experiences, products, and destination marketing intended to sell the ‘authentic’ fantasy to those who are seeking these imaginary geographies. However, Game of Thrones’ manifestations across its filming locations go beyond tourist products but created a complex landscape of new spatial, visual, material, and performative signifiers. Re-framing and restaging scenes, dressing up and using fictional toponyms while documenting and sharing these performances through social media photography have territorialised the diegetic heritage of Game of Thrones onto the filming locations. These practices have created liminal spaces that share aspects of pilgrimage, heritage- and nation-building processes, and established a new transnational heritage space with its own transnational imagined community, habitus and ‘hyper-traditions’. Furthermore, these new diegetic heritage landscapes are affecting previously established global perceptions and local identities. The post-conflict contexts of Northern Ireland and Dubrovnik illustrate how asserting new narratives, even if they are entirely fictional, can both overcome and create dissonant heritage as well as resolve and evoke memory conflicts. A multi-sited visual ethnography has been undertaken across Game of Thrones’ filming locations in Northern Ireland (UK), Dalmatia (Croatia) and Andalusia (Spain) to examine not only how Game of Thrones specifically has impacted the filming locations but how modern mass-media, social media and pop-culture is affecting how heritage is created, used and engaged with in the 21st century.
... In such cases a distance is created between the location of the film and the place it represents, so landscape can acquire a "cinematic identity" that becomes part of the local identity. This is evidenced by the growing interest in film tourism (Hudson, Ritchie 2006)visits to locations where films have been shotand thus in cinematic landscapes. Curiosity about film locations comes from cinema's ability to draw attention to these places. ...
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Conference Paper
Abstract There are Algeria sites and natural and cultural landscapes of high quality, often unknown in Europe: it is the case in particular in the area of El-Kala located in the extreme northeast of the country, the border with Tunisia. This space has been classified "protected area" through these very rich potential in terms of biodiversity (flora, fauna) and also in many natural ecosystems: lakeside (a wetland of international repute complex included on the Ramsar List) forestry, marine; climate; major outstanding natural sites and landscapes; historical and archaeological monuments, which require investment, particularly in terms of value creation and preservation and especially with the presence of its national park and nature reserve world heritage by UNESCO in 1990. This label would initiate development sustainable tourism in the region by highlighting its ecological and historical heritage and awareness for the preservation and promotion of heritage. This research attempts to analyze the current situation regarding the natural region of El Kala to identify the potentials and strengths that can be developed to promote tourism becomes the vector of the global economy, a tool revitalization of territories, an opportunity for sustainable development and a means to preserve biodiversity, natural ecosystems and cultural heritage and to define the challenges and opportunities for the future of this region. Keywords: Landscape, Tourism, Heritage, Protected area, Sustainable development, Preservation.
... The research concerning tourism is a relatively young, yet quickly developing field of study. The concept of film tourism itself, defined by Hudson and Richie as tourist visits to a destination or attraction as a result of the destination's being featured on television, video, or the cinema screen (Hudson and Ritchie, 2006), has been extended by Beeton (2005) with other kinds of tourist attractions concerning movie industry, namely tours to production studios, including film-related theme parks. The vast range of categories for film trips distinguished by Beeton, provide a large area for conducting research. ...
... Furthermore, visually appealing television programming will encourage viewers to visit tourism destinations (Hudson & Ritchie, 2006). Additionally, the destination image is a person's or group's perception of a destination in the form of cognitive and emotional components comprised of a variety of a person's beliefs, ideas, memories, and impressions (Silva et al., 2013). ...
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Chapter
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