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“Namastey London: Bollywood Movies and Their Impact on How Indians Perceive European Destination


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The aim of this study is to analyze the perception of European destinations through the eyes of Indian Bollywood film viewers to determine how perception is influenced by what is viewed in films. Researchers surveyed Indian consumers and collected 670 usable surveys. European destinations were divided into top five and bottom five destinations for Indian tourists, and data was then compared to world tourism statistics. Results indicate differences in destination preference among Bollywood viewers and worldwide tourist trends. Findings indicate that prominently featuring a landscape within Bollywood films can significantly impact Indians' perception on the destinations' image. European countries frequently portrayed in films have higher marks on multiple perception categories than those not featured in blockbuster Bollywood films.
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Hospitality Review
Volume 31
Issue 4 FIU Hospitality Review v.31 i.4 Article 2
June 2014
“Namastey London”: Bollywood Movies and eir
Impact on how Indians Perceive European
Bharath M. Josiam Ph.D.
University of North Texas,
Daniel Spears Ph.D.
University of North Texas,
Kirti Dua Ph.D.
Bhartiya Vidya Bhawans Usha & Lakshmi Mial Institute of Management (BULMIM), New Delhi, India,
Sanjukta A. Pookulangara Ph.D.
University of North Texas,
Tammy L. Kinley Ph.D.
University of North Texas,
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Recommended Citation
Josiam, Bharath M. Ph.D.; Spears, Daniel Ph.D.; Dua, Kirti Ph.D.; Pookulangara, Sanjukta A. Ph.D.; and Kinley, Tammy L. Ph.D.
(2014) "“Namastey London”: Bollywood Movies and eir Impact on how Indians Perceive European Destinations," Hospitality
Review: Vol. 31: Iss. 4, Article 2.
Available at: hp://digitalcommons.
“Namastey London”: Bollywood Movies and eir Impact on how
Indians Perceive European Destinations
e aim of this study is to analyze the perception of European destinations through the eyes of Indian
Bollywood lm viewers to determine how perception is inuenced by what is viewed in lms. Researchers
surveyed Indian consumers and collected 670 usable surveys. European destinations were divided into top
ve and boom ve destinations for Indian tourists, and data was then compared to world tourism statistics.
Results indicate dierences in destination preference among Bollywood viewers and worldwide tourist trends.
Findings indicate that prominently featuring a landscape within Bollywood lms can signicantly impact
Indians’ perception on the destinations’ image. European countries frequently portrayed in lms have higher
marks on multiple perception categories than those not featured in blockbuster Bollywood lms.
Bollywood Movies, European Destinations, Indian Tourists, Movie Induced Tourism, Travel Motivations,
Destination Marketing
is article is available in Hospitality Review: hp://digitalcommons.
“Namastey London”: Bollywood Movies and Their Impact on how
Indians Perceive European Destinations
Bollywood films are making waves across the international stage, not only with
their perfectly synchronized dancing, but also in their depiction of Indian travel
behaviors. This industry is one of the largest film industries in the world,
producing over 1,000 movies every year. It is a $72 billion industry selling six
billion tickets annually (Desai, 2005; Lovgren, 2004; Minocha & Stonehouse,
2006). Its commercial size grew at the robust rate of 58% in the five year period
between 2001 and 2005 (Lorenzen & Täube, 2008). Film exports also expanded
30–50% year on year during the same period and were forecast to increase by a
further 20% to 2010 (2008). A large chunk of this movie output from India comes
from the city of Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay. Hence, the moniker of
Bollywood was given to the Indian film Industry.
As a rapidly developing country, India has seen tremendous growth in its
300 million strong middle class (Rempel, 2007) and their purchasing power in the
past two decades. This growth boom has impacted all sectors of the Indian
economy, including outbound international tourism. The combination of these
forces has created an opportunity for growth in overseas tourism destinations,
often influenced by Indians’ perception of Bollywood films. A noteworthy piece
of evidence of the Indian market potential is the recent surge of Indian tourists to
Spain after the release of the Bollywood film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, set
against a Spanish backdrop (Harjani, 2011). Six months after its showing, the
Spanish tourism board saw a 32% upswing of visitors from India to Spain
(Harjani, 2011). Similarly, Mr. Yash Chopra, a major producer/director of
Bollywood movies, idealized Switzerland as a romantic destination in his films
and subsequently caused an increase in outbound travel from India to Switzerland,
increasing the outbound travel from India by 30% (Dubey, 2008). With the
proliferating number of consumers of Bollywood films, destination marketers are
eager to capitalize on this crown jewel of the Asian market.
Evoking positive perceptions of the destination through image
presentations has become an effective way to catapult the target destination into
the tourist’s consideration set. Images of film locations affect the audience’s
selection of one destination over another and their subsequent behaviors in the
destination (Bandyopadhyay, 2008; Han & Lee, 2008; Young & Young, 2008;
Kim & O’Connor, 2011). Not surprisingly, the tourists who travel to a place
depicted in a movie arrive with expectations and images about the location similar
to what is shown on screen (Butler, 2011). The images of the film thus affect
some destination image components and heighten tourists’ interest in visiting
(Kim & Richardson, 2003). Beverley and Niki (2009) suggested that media-
induced tourism helps tourists fulfill fantasies of being in the films via the
vicarious experience of actually traveling to the sites where they were filmed.
Tsiotsou and Ratten (2010) advocated that tourism marketers should heed
general shifts in the population in order to identify the changing habits and
demands of tourists. A number of convergent trends make it imperative to study
the Indian outbound tourism market. First, with its swelling 300 million plus
middle class (Rempel, 2007), India has become an important member of the
global consumer market. Second, there has been a tremendous growth of
outbound international tourism from India, which is expected to continue for
years to come. Millions of Indians now not only aspire to travel abroad, but
actually possess the means to do so. Third, the size and scale of the multi-billion
dollar Bollywood movie industry, and its role in filming movies in Europe, thus
showcasing international destinations to Indians for decades, is now enabling
Indians to move from the fantasy world of films to the real world of travel to
featured destinations. Given the potential growth of Bollywood and its growing
clout on the Indian audience, a close look at their perceptions of European
destinations, as seen through Bollywood films, will help open the door of
European tourism wider for the Indian market. The purpose of this paper, thus, is
to investigate the profiles of Indian film viewers and their perceptions of major
European destinations through the images of Bollywood cinema. The in-depth
analysis of this growing segment can help destination marketers gain insight into
the travel needs of this growing middle class Indian market.
The objectives of this study are:
1. To determine the demographic profile of Indians who watch Bollywood
2. To determine Indians’ engagement with Bollywood movies.
3. To explore the linkage between Bollywood movies and select travel
destinations in Europe.
4. To determine perceived images of European countries as destinations, and
the attractions and activities they present to tourists.
Literature review
Film-induced tourism
Film tourism is defined as “tourist visit to a destination or attraction as a result of
the destination’s being featured on television, video, or the cinema screen”
(Hudson & Ritchie, 2006b: p. 387). Evidence from around the world affirms that
tourists are increasingly visiting destinations as a result of those places being
depicted or featured in film or television (Connell, 2005; Im & Chon, 2008;
Iwashita, 2008).Destinations, landscapes, events and their contained cultures can
be significant factors in the communication of tourism” (Crouch, 2007: p.72).
Films not only influence destination choice, but also impact the tourism industry.
“Film-induced tourism is partially based on tourist demands to escape reality to a
better world represented in films” (O’Connor et al., 2008: p. 434). This makes it
important for destination marketers to carefully craft their role in the filming
process in order to portray an image that best reflects the location.
Motivations for traveling to screened locations
Generating interest in a destination is key to increasing visitation. Films can act as
a means of marketing a destination to millions of viewers. Mannell and Iso-Ahola
(1987) identified two motivational forces or dimensions of escaping and seeking
that operate simultaneously to stimulate and result in tourist behavior. An
individual’s travel behavior is influenced by the desire to escape from one’s
routine personal and/or interpersonal environment while seeking rewarding
personal and/or interpersonal experiences (Iso-Ahola, 1983). Furthermore,
according to Maconis (2004), the two primary motivators for traveling to screened
locations are novelty and fantasy.
Hudson and Ritchie (2006b) indicated that 8 of 10 residents of the United
Kingdom remarked in a 2004 survey that they got the idea for their vacation
destination through movies, and 1 in 5 is planning a trip to the location their
favorite movie was filmed. Suni and Komppula (2012) have asserted that movie-
induced tourism in United Kingdom is worth about 1.6 billion pounds. Though no
established methods yet exist to measure film-induced tourism, film influences on
tourism are evident in the increase in visitor numbers after a movie has been
released (Singh & Best, 2004). Their study followed the film-induced tourism
prompted by the release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The authors found that
the main motivation to visit Hobbiton (movie set/backdrop) was to experience the
natural scenery of that place. This indicated that travelers motivated by a movie
expect to see the views/sceneries as shown in the movie. After the release of the
Lord of the Rings trilogy, marketing material produced by Tourism New Zealand
was created connecting locations from the films to the scenery of New Zealand,
displaying a documented effect on how movies can impact tourism (Croy, 2004;
Macionis & O'Connor, 2011; Suni & Komppula, 2012).
New Zealand, a film-friendly destination, is a prime example of a place
that has successfully collaborated and leveraged off the success of The Lord of
the Rings trilogy. Industry integration and collaboration between stakeholders is
crucial for sustainable film-induced tourism to occur. The tourism and film
stakeholders should work closely with each other to help promote their
destination tourism and marketing strategies as well as their product
differentiation more effectively.
Movies seen and places visited
The tourism literature is replete with studies that identify specific movies and then
examine how they have induced tourism to destinations worldwide. O’Connor, et
al. (2008), have studied the relationship between film induced tourism and
destination branding of Yorkshire in the UK. Frost (2010) has studied the impacts
of movies on the Australian outback on tourist perceptions. Im and Chon (2008)
studied the long-felt impact of the classic musical – The Sound of Music on
tourism to Salzburg, Austria. Frost (2006) has studied the impact of the historical
film – Braveheart and its’ impact on the destination image of Scotland, UK.
Iwashita (2008) has examined how Japanese tourists to UK are motivated by films
and television dramas. O’Connor (2011) has examined film-induced tourism to
In addition to studies on movie-induced tourism to UK and Australia,
scholars have also studied how Korean TV dramas have attracted tourists from the
Middle-East to Korea (Kim, et al., 2009); while Shani (2009) and Hudson, et al.
(2011) have both studied the impact of movies on tourism to and image of South
America. Soliman (2011) has examined the impact of movies on domestic tourism
within Egypt; and Law, et al. (2007) have critically examined the role of foreign
tourists in Thailand.
In summary, this section of the literature has shown the impact that
movies have had on increasing tourism to the locations shown. Furthermore, it is
noteworthy that the studies cited earlier show evidence of movie-induced tourism
world-wide in Asia, Continental Europe, the Middle-East, South America, and the
Bollywood films and tourism
In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, romantic sequences in Indian films were
primarily shot in the mountainous region of Kashmir in India, widely regarded as
'heaven on earth'. Bollywood directors were mesmerized by the beauty of
Kashmir, so much so that the mountains in Kashmir became synonymous with
romance in Bollywood. However, when the terrorism threats of the late 1980s
made the region difficult to reach, and later inaccessible, Bollywood directors
began seeking substitute locations overseas (Macionis, 2004; Macionis & Sparks,
Fascination with foreign locations within Bollywood began in the mid-
1960s when Raj Kapoor (Bollywood Producer/Director/Actor) shot his first color
film, titled Sangam, in Italy, France, and Switzerland. This started the foreign
locations trend in Indian cinema. The trend accelerated in the 1970s to 1990s
when actors were transported to striking foreign locations like the Swiss Alps and
Britain’s Summer Isles, which were the primary backdrops of many Yash Chopra
productions (Shah, 2012). More than 200 Bollywood titles have been shot in
Switzerland over the past two decades alone (“Bollywood drives…,” 2008).
“Most of the Swiss sequences are dream scenes in which lovers dance or romp on
Alpine meadows strewn with flowers or roll in the snow in unlikely flimsy Indian
garb on wintry slopes” (Tagliabue, 2010). Many Indians flock annually to Swiss
locations in which popular Bollywood films were shot to recreate and relive
scenes from their favorite films (Tagliabue, 2010).
Veteran Bollywood director Mr. Yash Chopra, noted as one of the greatest
filmmakers in the history of Indian cinema, singlehandedly boosted tourism in
Switzerland by regularly featuring the country's lakes, misty valleys, and snow-
capped mountains as the backdrop for his song and dance sequences during his
career spanning 53 years (Dubey, 2008). So grateful was the Swiss Tourism
Authority that they named a lake after him. The director also played a part in
promoting Britain as a glamorous destination. His classic film Lamhe (1991) was
shot in London and the Lake District. When he produced Mujhse Dosti Karoge a
decade later, Chopra again returned to England’s Lake District to film aboard one
of the steamers which ply between Glen Ridding and Pooley Bridge, reveling in
the twisting lake, rolling hills, and winding roads of the national park (Macionis,
2004; Macionis & Sparks, 2009).
Some of the biggest blockbusters of Bollywood, shot in Western Europe,
that impacted Indian Bollywood viewers are An Evening in Paris (France and
Switzerland) Chandani, Lamhe, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (UK, mainly
Switzerland), Bachna Ae Haseno (Italy & Switzerland), Taal (Britain), Kabhi
Khushi Kabhi Gham, (UK), Tal (UK), Namastey London (UK), Cheeni Kum
(UK), and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (Spain). Many articles in the popular press
have reported that Indian audiences and even non-Indian audiences who watch
Bollywood movies on a regular basis visit the destinations shown in the movies
(Taglibue, 2010; Munshi, 2012; Lovgren, 2004; Padmanabhan, 2010). To
capitalize on this film-induced tourism, destination marketers must creatively
advertise to these Bollywood viewers. An example of this type of creative
marketing occurred in England when the Britain’s Tourism Authority created a
“Bollywood map” (Bollywood movies shot in Britain) depicting the most visited
destinations by Indian tourists in Britain (‘Bollywood gives a boost’, 2008),
pulling Indians directly to locations shown in Bollywood films.
Another major attraction and integral part of Bollywood movies are the
elaborate song sequences. Almost every Bollywood movie has song sequences
and dance numbers contributing to its earnings/profit and these elaborate numbers
are often a major deciding factor in determining whether the movie will be a hit or
a flop. Often, movie songs are shot at a scenic destination outside India, even
though the rest of the movie is filmed within India. This creates an exotic appeal
within the movies and plays a major role in attracting viewers. Movie
soundtracks, music videos, and even remixed versions of songs of the Bollywood
movies released in India and abroad are major pull factors to attract viewers to the
theater (Padmanabhan, 2010).
Top tourist destinations in Europe for Indian travelers
With over 81 million visitors worldwide in 2011, France ranks highest in tourist
arrivals among all European destinations. Besides France, among the top five
most commonly traveled to European countries are Spain, Italy, Turkey, and the
United Kingdom. Germany, ranked at #6 in tourist arrivals, had just over 28
million inbound visitors in 2011. Interestingly, Switzerland ranks at #16 among
European countries in terms of tourist arrivals, with a 2011 total of 8.3 million
worldwide visitors (Ministry of Tourism, 2011).
When looking at outbound travel, Indian tourists show different travel
preferences to Europe. In 2010, outbound Indian tourists totaled just fewer than
14 million, a 7.7% increase from the previous year (Ministry of Tourism, 2011).
The most popular European countries for outbound travel from India vary from
those of the rest of the world. Not surprisingly, the UK is listed as one of the top
destinations for Indian tourist. This preference for travel to the UK by Indians is
likely because India and the UK have linkages going back to the 1800s, with
England as colonial master until 1947. Furthermore, there are millions of Indian
immigrants living in the UK. Additionally, the UK is also prominently featured in
many Bollywood films. These factors each amplify the levels of exposure most
Indians have to the UK. Even though there are strong perceived ties between the
UK and India, France attracts 50% more Indian tourists than UK (UK Tourism
Statistics, 2012), giving it top rank among most traveled to countries by outbound
Indian tourist.
Though listed at #16 among worldwide rankings, Switzerland ranks as a
top five destination for Indian tourists, with over 135,000 outbound travelers
during 2009, finishing just behind Italy among outbound Indian travelers
(Ministry of Tourism, 2011). Spain, also a current top five global destination,
reported 52 million international visitors in 2009, but a surprisingly low number
of only 12,800 were from India. However, numbers increased dramatically after
the 2011 release of the Bollywood blockbuster Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. The
number of reported Indian tourists in Spain in 2011 topped 115,000, increasing
the arrivals from India by nearly 1000% (Munshi, 2012).
Need for the study
The literature review has shown a number of convergent trends that contribute to
increasing tourism to Europe from India. However, this phenomenon has not been
addressed in the tourism literature. Furthermore, while there have been many
articles of the impact of movies on international travel and tourism, no study has
addressed the impact that Bollywood movies may have on outbound Indian
travelers to Europe. Furthermore, no study has attempted to link a genre of
movies (such as Bollywood)-and their impact on the image of multiple countries.
These gaps in the literature on film induced tourism need to be addressed. The
purpose of this paper, thus, is to investigate the profiles of Indian film viewers and
their perceptions of major European destinations through the images of
Bollywood cinema.
The population of this study consisted of Indians 18 years old or older. A total of
670 respondents participated in this study. A survey questionnaire was
constructed on the basis of previous studies on movie induced tourism, destination
image, and tourist consumption activity. Using a convenience sampling method,
students in a post graduate marketing class, under the supervision of one of the
co-authors, were employed to collect data. Students approached potential
respondents at malls and metro stations in the national capital of India, New
Delhi. Respondents were screened for their ability to complete a survey in the
English language and by age.
The questionnaires included sections about movie preferences, levels of
involvement with foreign travel/tourism, destination choices based upon movies
viewed, and perceptions of attractions and activities at the destination based upon
the influence of Bollywood movies/TV. The instrument consisted of six parts, all
ranked on a 5 point Likert scale from ‘strongly disagree’ (1) to ‘strongly agree’
(5). The survey explored: (a) Indian Movie/TV preferences, (b) Sources for travel
ideas, (c) Movies/TV influenced travel activity. Respondents also were asked
about their perceptions or images of countries in Europe and what they offer for
Indian tourists. Within this question, respondents were given ten Western
European countries and asked to choose from varied perceptions such as great
fun, great shopping, relaxing, and cultural and historic sites, among others. In the
last three sections of the questionnaire, respondents were asked to (d) rate their
level of involvement in international travel and tourism; (e) to recall up to three
Indian movies/ TV programs and the corresponding place that have inspired their
choice of a travel destination abroad (outside of India); (f) to complete questions
regarding personal demographics, which would be used to determine the general
characteristics of the sample. Descriptive statistics were used in the analysis of the
survey results.
Objective 1: Demographic Characteristics
The survey was successfully completed by 670 respondents. Table1 illustrates
demographics of the sample. Results show that 59% of respondents were male.
The largest age cohort included respondents aged 22 to 29 years (58.1%). Most
respondents were married (57.2%) and spoke Hindi, the national language of
India (68.7%). The majority of respondents were employed full time (58.2%),
though nearly a quarter indicated that they were students who were unemployed
(24.0%). Furthermore, over 80% of respondents had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
More than half (55%) of respondents had monthly household incomes between
U.S. $1,000 and U.S. $2,000. Table 1 also shows that almost half of the
respondents have previously traveled outside India (48.5%). The sample
demographics reflect the urban, English-speaking, upper middle class of the
Indian population who have the means and ability to travel to international
Objective 2: To determine Indian’s engagement with Bollywood movies
Results indicate that Indians are highly engaged with Bollywood movies (Table
2). Over half of respondents (51.5%) seek information and gossip about new
Indian movies before their release, and 39.1% of respondents indicate they watch
movies in the theatre as soon as they are released. In addition, respondents were
asked the number of Indian movies they watch per week in movie theatres, on
TV, and on the internet. Nearly half (48.1%) of respondents watched Indian
movies on TV three or more times per week, and 25.1% indicated that they
watched three or more films weekly in movie theaters.
Table 1. Demographic profile of respondents.
Female 275
Male 395
Under 21years old 75
22-29 years old 389
30-39 years old 130
40-49 years old 50
50-60 years old 26
Marital status
Married 383
Single 286
Mother Tongue
Hindi 460
Punjabi 68
Bengali 42
Other 100
Employment status
Not Employed (Student) 161
Not Employed (Non-Student) 55
Employed Part-Time 64
Employed Full-Time 390
Monthly household income
Less than U.S. $1,000 175
U.S. $ 1,000 to U.S. $2,000 372
More than U.S. $1,000 123
Highest level of education
High school or lower 21
Some college 88
Bachelor’s degree 323
Graduate degree 228
Have traveled to
Asia 71
South East Asia 25
Middle East 36
Africa 41
Australia/New Zealand 22
Europe 58
North America 22
South America 13
Traveled to multiple continents 37
I have not traveled outside India 345
Enthusiasm and engagement with Bollywood movies.
N (670)
Movie Viewing Preference
Seek information/gossip about new movies before
Movie ‘Buff’ or ‘Super-fan’ 194
I watch movies on the first day of release in theatres 193
I watch movies as soon as they are released in theatres 264
Weekly Consumption Behaviors:
Watched 3 or more movies in Movie Theatres 168
Watched 3 or more movies on TV 322
Watched 3 or more movies on the Internet 171
Objective 3: To explore the linkage between Bollywood movies and select travel
destinations in Europe.
To explore the relationship between Bollywood movie watching behavior and
international travel and tourism, respondents were asked to recall names of three
movies that have inspired their choice of travel destinations in Europe. As
illustrated in Table 3, almost a third (30.7%) of respondents said that Zindagi Na
Milegi Dobara was one movie motivating them to travel to Europe. In the open-
ended section of the survey, multiple respondents indicated that this Bollywood
film specifically influenced travel plans. One respondent stated “[Bollywood
films are a] great influence! Specifically from Indian movies, one of my friends
had gone to Europe and planned another trip for Spain just after watching Zindagi
Na Milegi Dobara.” Another respondent states “one of my friends went to Europe
after watching Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” and a third said “my family has been
to places seen in the movies. My father has been to Europe and brother plans to
go to Spain.” Table 4 shows that 45.7% of respondents wanted to travel to the UK
after they watched movies, while 40.9% of respondents were motivated by
Bollywood movies to travel to Switzerland.
Table 3.
Top Bollywood movies inducing travel to Europe.
Name of Indian Movie Filming Location N (670) %
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara Spain 206
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge Switzerland, U.K. 182
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam Italy 102
Namastey London U.K. 101
Don2 Germany, Switzerland 79
Bachna Ae Haseeno Italy, Switzerland 75
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham U.K. 48
Rockstar Czech Republic 46
Table 4.
Top European countries Indians want to visit after watching Bollywood
Country N (670) %
U.K. 306 45.7
Switzerland 274 40.9
Italy 256 38.2
Spain 164 24.5
France 107 16.0
Germany 65 9.7
Objective 4: To determine perceived images of European countries as
destinations, and the attractions and activities they present to tourists.
One of the main objectives of this study was to determine respondents’
perceptions of European destinations; researchers wanted to understand what
image comes to the respondent’s mind when they think of a particular country.
Respondents were presented with a list of ten Western European countries and a
list of attributes for each of these countries. To facilitate concise presentation, this
discussion categorizes the ten countries into two groups the five most popular
and the five least popular among Indians (Table 5 & Table 6).
Table 5. Top five European countries & their destination attributes as seen by Indians.
to See
Switz. 192 422 213 150 361 103 219 202
UK 356 223 178 161 200 226 224 271
Italy 202 260 147 141 194 202 184 118
Spain 143 192 229 144 223 163 191 173
France 211 253 151 171 189 140 138 107
Table 6. Bottom five European countries & their destination attributes as seen by Indians
Shopping Romantic
Recreation Relaxing
to See
Germany 126 141 162 133 153 164 154 104
Austria 143 187 170 154 167 53 90 76
Greece 92 145 101 106 162 219 82 80
Netherlands 82 111 113 107 135 82 78 64
Portugal 64 81 97 89 103 163 83 86
It is intriguing to note that the UK was perceived to be the best place for
shopping followed by France and Italy. Over 60% of respondents perceived UK
to be their favorite shopping destination.
Over 69% of respondents said that they perceived Switzerland to be a
romantic destination. Just over 40% perceive France and Italy as romantic
destinations. It is noteworthy that Switzerland has nearly twice as many
references as a romantic destination as its nearest competitor further suggesting
that Switzerland has been romanticized in Bollywood films.
Additionally, more than 69% of respondents said they perceived
Switzerland to be the best location in Europe for scenery, followed by Spain
(35.8%) and the UK (32%). Again, Switzerland was referenced by twice as many
Indians for its scenery, likely because it is frequently used within Bollywood
About one third of respondents indicated Spain and Switzerland as
destinations with good recreation. Similarly, the UK, Switzerland, and Spain are
perceived by approximately 30% of respondents as “great fun”. Often,
recreational activities at these destinations are featured in Bollywood movies,
enhancing Indian’s perceived image of the country in which they witness the
activity. For example, the scuba diving, sky diving, and Running with the Bulls in
Spain are featured in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, likely enhancing Indian’s
perception of Spain as ‘great fun’ and a destination with good recreation.
Again, the UK, Switzerland, and Spain all rank highest among the ‘things
to see’ category, with a significant portion of Indian’s indicating that each of these
countries have things to do and see (25-40%). This study also found that over
35% of respondents perceived Greece, Italy, and the UK as excellent cultural
Overall, it is seen that countries in the Top 5 list in unaided recall are cited
most often and in multiple categories (Figure 1). They are perceived to be
destinations that offer a rich and varied palate of places to see and activities to do.
Furthermore, as seen in Figure 2, they also have a very low ranking in the
category of ‘no image.’ The strength of the perceived image of the UK, Spain,
and Switzerland is likely due to the prevalence of these top three attribute-rich
locations as backdrops for many Bollywood films. Because exposure to these
settings is high in Bollywood films, Indian viewers can formulate stronger
opinions of their perceptions of these countries.
Figure 1. Total attributes cited by country
Figure 2. Countries cited for ‘no image’.
0 500 1000 1500 2000
The Netherlands
Country Perception - Total Attributes Cited
0 50 100 150 200 250 300
The Netherlands
Country Perception - Cited for "No Image"
Summary and Implications
The findings of this study are consistent with the literature. Hudson and Ritchie
(2006a, 2006b) have pointed out that some films are more successful than others
in inducing tourism. They have also identified some critical factors that contribute
to destination promotion. If the story line and the site are inter-linked, the
audience is more likely to be emotionally involved with the film (Tooke & Baker,
1996). The box-office success of a film can be a good predictor of movie-induced
tourism (Grihault, 2003). It seems that the popularity of Spain with Bollywood
movie fans as a result of a single recent blockbuster hit (Zindagi Na Milegi
Dobara) supports both of these contentions. Filmed primarily in Spain, the film
played as a full length advertisement for Spanish Tourism, featuring the
Bollywood actors participating in the La Tomatina Festival and the Running of the
Bulls in Pamplona. Though not financing the film, the Spanish tourism board
contributed location support and an additional $660,000 in subsidies (Munshi,
2012). Since the release of the film in the Indian market, Spain witnessed a
marked increase in Indian tourist, increasing numbers by 65% from 2011 to 2012
(Munshi, 2012). Subsequently, the movie boosted Spanish tourism directly from
India by more than 30%, especially in locations shown in the film (Harjani, 2011).
Repeating exposure to the destination would lead to a higher level of
engagement, familiarity, attachment, and identification. The popularity of
Switzerland, UK, and France with Bollywood audiences is not surprising, given
the number of movies that have showcased these countries over the decades,
starting with the 1960’s. Furthermore, many of these Bollywood movies were
blockbuster hits in India.
Alarmingly, 35% of respondents said that they had ‘no image’ of Portugal
or the Netherlands as tourism destinations (Figure 2). Though the scenery in
Portugal is similar to its neighboring country of Spain, this effect is likely because
no major blockbuster Bollywood hit has been filmed to date in Portugal.
Similarly, no major Bollywood blockbuster has been filmed in the Netherlands to
date, thus the image of the country has not been portrayed to most Indian
Bollywood viewers.
Interestingly, Portugal has seemed to take a cue from the success of its
neighboring country. PicturePortugal signed an agreement with a Mumbai
company for the production of Indian films in Portugal in the hopes of spurring
tourism growth of Indians to Portugal (New Protocol with Bollywood, 2012), a
country of which most Indians currently have little to no perceived image. Indian
visitor numbers are low, at around 13,000 annually (Dev, 2012). Depending on
the success of future Bollywood movies filmed in Portugal, future research can
compare and contrast Indian perceptions from the current study with the future.
Though featured in past Bollywood films, countries such as Greece,
Austria, and the Netherlands have yet to be featured within a successful
Bollywood blockbuster, or have failed to be identified as the correct country. For
example, Silsila, directed by the famous Yash Chopra, was not a box office
success, but since has risen to cult status among Bollywood viewers (Jha, 2011).
Filmed partially in the Netherlands, the scenes of the Keukenhof Tulip Gardens
are intertwined with mountains covered in snow with the main characters running
about, potentially confusing the audience with images similar to those shot in
Switzerland. Likely due to the confusion of country identity, the Netherlands has
a high prevalence of Indian Bollywood viewers rating ‘no opinion/image’.
Similarly, multiple Bollywood films have featured Grecian backdrops, including
Chalte Chalte, Tashan, and Wanted, though only one was commercially
successful Wanted reached blockbuster status as the highest grossing film in
Bollywood in 2009. It is likely that the limited exposure of Greece in films has
contributed to the lack of image among Indian viewers.
Looking at the graph of ‘no image’ countries (Figure 2), it is evident that
those countries with little to no blockbuster Bollywood movie exposure were
noted as ‘no image/opinion’ more often than those frequently featured in
Bollywood films, or in major Bollywood blockbusters. Taken together, the two
graphs (Figure 1 and Figure 2) seem to be an inverse of each other, with countries
high on one list, being low on the other.
This study makes a strong and unique contribution to the literature on movie-
induced tourism. First, Bollywood movies, as a major global movie genre, have
not been addressed in the literature. Second, few studies have examined the
impact of outbound tourism from India as major trend in global tourism. Third, no
studies have linked multiple movies to tourist perceptions of multiple attributes of
destinations in multiple countries. The current study is the first one to address
these three major gaps in the literature.
The findings of this study suggest that perceived destination image of
European countries is strongly influenced by Bollywood films among a large
segment of the Indian population. As noted earlier, through immersion in
Bollywood films, Indian moviegoers vicariously experience an alternate fantasy
world set in Switzerland or France within Bollywood films (Nayar, 1997). Thus,
many viewers become immersed in a fantasy film world and use the portrayal of
the country on film as a representation of what that country offers in reality. This
is consistent with the assertion by Macionis (2004), that the two primary
motivators for traveling to screened locations are novelty and fantasy. Indeed,
Tagliabue (2010) has discussed how many Indian tourists in Switzerland re-enact
scenes from Bollywood movies while touring the Swiss Alps, literally acting out
their fantasies.
Hudson and Ritchie (2006a) have shown that if destinations proactively
engage in efforts with movie producers and studios to film at their location, it can
result in successful film tourism. As Bollywood films seem to have such a
significant influence on perceived image and travel intentions of Indian viewers, it
is critical for destination marketers to concern themselves with Bollywood films
in order to tap into an emergent affluent market of Indian tourists.
Limitations and Future Studies
Though a large sample was obtained, this study utilized a convenience sample to
gather data. Thus, the findings of this study may not be generalizable to the entire
Indian population. Future studies should utilize a random sampling procedure to
gather a sample more representative of the entire population. Additionally, no
verification procedures were utilized to check perceptions or travel behavior; the
survey simply asked respondents to specify personal perceptions, intentions, and
behavior, which could have been exaggerated, understated, or incorrectly
recorded. Adding more specific questions in future data collection could aid in the
verification of the influences of media on travel intentions and image perceptions.
This study was exploratory and descriptive. Future studies should use a
more sophisticated empirical design, providing for deeper understanding of the
phenomenon. Future studies could use a longitudinal design to look at how
perceptions of destination image vary over the years as more and more Bollywood
movies are filmed abroad. Additionally, the study design can be adapted for use in
other Asian countries to see how Bollywood films influence the destination
perceptions of other Asian populations and compare the effects to the results
identified in this research. Furthermore, the scope of the study can be expanded
to analyze the perception of worldwide destinations featured in Bollywood
movies, including the United States, Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand.
As increasing numbers of Indians travel worldwide, future studies can
examine if Bollywood movies play a lesser or greater role in motivating Indians
to travel to specific destinations. As movie producers shift location shooting to
Spain, Portugal, and other countries, the country rankings found in this study will
certainly change. For example, the impact of one movie as a motivation to visit
Spain is likely to fade over time. Future studies can examine these issues.
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