Coming Soon to a Theater Near You: Your Next Vacation Destination - My Family Travels

With the Oscars coming up, I wonder, will Zero Dark Thirty generate buzz about Pakistan?  Will Argo help to promote Iran? Will Les Miserables keep everyone away from France?

A funny thing happened on the way to the movies:  forty million international movie-goers have opted to travel to a place where a movie they loved was shot.  Travel Daily News (TDN)  reports that these travelers made their travel plans and chose their destinations based on a movie they saw in 2012. Obviously, as TDN says, filming in a destination is "clearly a very efficient driver for attracting new visitors."

Makes sense. As Mashable reported, old Hollywood had its star system and magazines. New movieland has its Twitter, Facebook and multiple mobile devices.

Although movies have always shown trailers, studios are now using Facebook and Twitter to show their trailers, creating special web sites to screen the previews,  and creating "viral alternate realities," using location-based services.

And "crowdsourced screening locations" is another way the movie industry can turn a $15,000 dollar-to-make Paranormal Activity into a $150 million dollar success. Movie execs at Paramount used Facebook to get fans to ask for a showing of the movie in their areas.  One million fan requests snowballed into major box office receipts.

But, what's cool is how movies boost travel and tourism.

TCI Research,  which helps the tourism and travel industry with marketing and branding, noted that regions and cities that make movie-making easy through tax credits and support, will reap travel rewards by attracting first-time visitors, young travelers and multi-generational travelers. 

TravelSat, which benchmarks a destination's competitiveness, noted that since 1 in 10 visitors would chose a destination based on a movie they saw, stronger links between the movie and travel and tourism industries makes big sense.

Even though using movies to promote a destination is a relatively indirect marketing strategy, in comparison to a vigorous, more direct  Social Media marketing campaign, it's an effective one, especially among the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries. 

What are the stand-out movies that most contributed to tourism's coffers?

As We Travel cited a few that created a tourism boomlet.

  • Mamma Mia! did wonders for Greece,  and Lord of the Rings and Narnia gave New Zealand tourism a huge boost.  It seems the mayor of the Greek island of Skopelos, the setting for Mamma Mia!, said the phones didn't stop ringing after the movie's debut, and the tourism surge actually had the locals concerned about destruction of the island's beauty and quality of life.
  • The small town of Forks, Washington, the scene of the Twilight Saga, experienced a huge 1000% increase in lodgings as a result of the movie, and The Beach caused  such a massive increase in tourism in Thailand, the area suffered serious coral reef damage and overfishing.
  • Not to mention the "Harry Potter" franchise, which will forever be a boon to Great Britain.

The impact of travel and tourism on a destination is a mixed blessing.

Granted the economies benefit; often the ecologies suffer. The increasing popularity of ecotourism, in part, is a reaction against the inevitable upset huge numbers of travelers cause.   

There is no shortage of opinions about the effect other movies have had on choosing a destination. Many say In Bruges was a big motivator to visit Belgium (I loved it)  and Braveheart did wonders for Scotland.

On the other hand, we're glad to see Turkey finally recovered from the devastatingly negative impact The Midnight Express had on its travel and tourism industry.

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