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Film induced tourism

Add an element of entertainment to your travel

By CAROLINE MWENDWA

Nowhere is the power of fiction archived in history than the famous Chateau d’ if, the smallest island situated in the Mediterranean Sea (now a tourist attraction site) used as a setting in the famous novel, The Count of Monte Cristo that was later converted to film. In this movie, the major character, Edmond Dantes, a guileless and honest young man is betrayed and falsely accused by his bosom friend Ferdinand, who is jealous of Dantes’ success as a sailor and his beautiful fiancé. The betrayal leads to Dantes’ incarceration in the isolated island of Chateau d’if, where he finds an aging priest, Abbe Farria serving a life sentence. Together, they serve fourteen years, during which the old priest passes skills and knowledge to Dantes. When the elderly, priest dies, Dantes replaces his body with himself in the burial sack and manages a daring escape, masquerading to be the dead priest. Once he’s thrown into the sea, he wades through the sea to his freedom and uses the wealth bequeathed him by the priest to buy the powerful title, The Count. Then he sets out to revenge his traitors. The novel published in 1844, gained international acclaim, and the Chateau d’if became popularly known. The modern Château d’if maintains a roughly hewn dungeon in honour of Dantès and attracts masses of tourists from all corners of the world. 

Tolkien tourism 

Who would think, a setting conceived in the writer’s mind would make for an international tourist attraction site? The concept of movie-induced tourism was not embraced until the 20th century when celebrity obsession became a thing. Markwell (2001) acknowledges the ties between media and social construction in relation to tourism, noting that the visual forms of popular culture have a strong influence on tourists’ ideas and beliefs. Tolkien tourism is a phenomenon where fans of fictional universe travel to sites of film and book related significance. Many of the locations where parts of the movies were filmed/books were set become destinations for curious travellers.

Game of Thrones one of the most popular series in TV history has sparked a tourism boom everywhere it is shot. It is for instance cited as a key factor behind the remarkable growth in annual visitors to Iceland.  The filming locations which are in two continents, and eight different countries have probably made it to the bucket list of its audience’s touring destinations, considering the picturesque view, presented in virtually every scene of this captivating series. 

Film as a destination marketing tool

While opinions as to whether filming a site renders it a highly tourist attraction site are varied, some researchers have proved that indeed, film induced tourism happens, and others have disapproved. A good example is The Lord of the Rings trilogy filmed all around New Zealand. Over 150 real-world locations were used for key scenes, including Mordor, Hobbiton, Rivendell and more. Other scenes were put together digitally, at the WETA Workshop in Wellington, as well as at soundstages in Wellington and Queenstown. Tourism experts termed it as a New Zealand advert predicting an influx of tourists after the film. Some studies however, concluded that the growth of tourism in New Zealand could not directly be linked to the film. However, some film locations have proved to yield positively. For example, the small UK village, Goathland where the TV series Heartbeat was filmed, saw tourism increase from 200,000 tourists annually to about one million.  

Impact on the community

While increased tourist activity in a country, positively affects its economy, we cannot overlook, the impact an influx of visitors would have on a small community that was hitherto recluse. Individuals may not desire certain impacts of film induced tourism in their community such as crowding and lack of privacy. Visitor profiles further impact the physique of the place. For example, shops can have the focus of the goods and services being provided shifting from the resident to the visitor. This means an increase in number of galleries, cafes and restaurants and a decrease in number of banks, butcheries and grocery shops which serve the needs of the residents. Some of the long-term social effects of film-induced tourism especially in the case where residents were not involved in the decision to film the movie in their neighbourhood include: congestion, parking in the common grazing land, and a change of the type of visitor in the neighbourhood. 

Conclusion

Today more than ever, film consumption is rising and even though the tourism in the sites these films are shot may not grow alarmingly, a place in a film, intertwined with a story line will definitely create an emotional and psychological connection with the audience. This experience never leaves the mind, and there is always a desire to experience the context of the film in real life.

Caroline Mwendwa is the Editor Management Magazine. Email: cmwendwa@kim.ac.ke

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