Film Tourism & Travel Motivation

A new global survey comes to confirm that encouraging film shooting in a destination proves to be a very efficient driver for attracting new visitors!

According to the global benchmarking survey TRAVELSAT© Competitive Index, last year around 40 millions international tourists chose their destination mostly because they saw a film shot in the country.

The survey also reports that regions and cities can widely benefit from this driver for attracting first time visitors, young travellers and city breakers in particular.

In average and depending on the destination and market, 1 to 10 visitors of 100 would choose a destination mostly thanks to movies. Moreover BRIC markets tend to be especially sensitive to this channel. The analysis extracted from the global TRAVELSAT Competitive Index Survey is based on 25.000+ representative international travellers (leisure, MICE and VFR).

Commenting on the results, CEO Olivier Henry-Biabaud adds: “Supporting film shooting in a destination can offer higher ROI than traditional communication campaigns and may offer an indirect yet efficient promotional media for destinations as part of their marketing mix. DMOs have therefore all interest in tightening their relationship with the cinema industry if they wish to rival better vs international competition”.

As for destination marketing, the latest example comes from India where the government has launched a tourism campaign aiming to take maximum advantage of the worldwide popularity of “Life of Pi“, which has been partly shot in the beautiful locales of Puducherry and Munnar in Kerala.

The “Land of Pi” campaign will be launched across all media, including print, online, electronic and outdoor, to promote Puducherry and Munnar as tourist destinations in the country.The Tourism Ministry has already announced special National Tourism Awards for Ang Lee, Director, and Yann Martel, author of the book “Life of Pi”, for promoting India through the film.Recognising the importance of cinema as a powerful tool for development and promotion of various tourist destinations, the ministry has undertaken several initiatives for promoting film tourism through films shot in India.

As per the campaign plan, “Land of Pi” posters will be displayed worldwide through India tourism offices overseas. They will also organise road shows to promote Indian destinations in China and Taiwan, where the film has been very well received. T-shirts and caps branding the two destinations of Pi will also distributed as per the massive campaign. Luxury buses plying between Chennai and Puducherry and Kochi and Munnar will be branded with “Land of Pi” creatives; Special “Land of Pi” tours and walking trails will be organised for tourists visiting Puducherry and Munnar. Also, short films on the tourist attractions in Puducherry and Munnar which have been depicted in the film have been created and being put on Youtube and other social media networks.

Source: India Today

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Film Tourism & Destination Marketing

Film-induced tourism is one of the fast growing sectors of the tourism industry and this is something that both the UK and New Zealand know very well.

James Bond on VisitBritain’s Service

On Global James Bond Day, marking the 50th anniversary of the 007 film franchise, VisitBritain launched its biggest ever film tourism campaign, centered around the release of “Skyfall,” the 23rd James Bond adventure.

Capturing the adventure and excitement of 007, VisitBritain’s image campaign includes its largest ever film tourism campaign, which will be shown in cinemas in key inbound markets like Australia, Brazil, Germany and the US. A number of billboards declaring “Bond is GREAT Britain” will also remind people that there is no better time for them to visit Britain and explore the home of the world’s most dashing secret agent.

VisitBritain also launched an online SKYFALL experience called ‘Agent UK’, designed to engage with the large digital and social media following that the national tourism agency already enjoys. The campaign can be shared through Twitter, Facebook & Google+.

Britain’s rich heritage and culture, along with its film expertise all combine to make the UK an ideal location for filming, something which has been drawing film-makers to Britain for years.

On average, 120 million people worldwide will see a blockbuster film in the first three weeks of it opening and research shows that film locations can be a major draw for overseas tourists. VisitBritain research shows that just under half of potential visitors to Britain want to visit places they have seen featured in films or TV.

New Zealand is 100% Middle Earth

100% Middle-earth,100% Pure New Zealand underpins Tourism New Zealand‘s (TNZ) campaign work to promote New Zealand as a visitor destination through its association with the upcoming film releases of “The Hobbit” Trilogy.

The aim is to take advantage of that global profile by showing how easily the fantasy of The Hobbit movies can become reality in the form of a New Zealand holiday. The dedicated marketing campaign aims to show potential travellers that the fantasy of Middle-earth is in fact the reality of New Zealand – and that there is a whole world of experiences to be had and people to meet within the movie-scene style landscapes.

Research conducted by Tourism NZ in May to July, 2012 found that 57% of people already considering a trip to New Zealand were aware of The Hobbit trilogy. Of those aware of the films, 87% know they were filmed in New Zealand and 58 per cent are fans of the Hobbit.

This week sees the first 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand joint venture activity launched in USA as part of an advertising campaign with Air New Zealand. Rolled out using online advertising, potential travellers will be directed to landing pages on and respectively promoting return airfares to Auckland.

Talking about marketing integration, it was recently announced that New Zealand’s capital Wellington will rename itself “The Middle of Middle-earth” when it hosts the world premiere of The Hobbit movie trilogy next month. The city will also host Hobbit artwork and an artisan festival. The city also announced that the postal service and local newspaper will be among many agencies to use the unofficial Middle Earth moniker for three weeks.

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Film Tourism & Destinations On Air

There is no doubt that film tourism can be a valuable vehicle for destination marketing and even better for new tourism product development as well. Film and TV productions can have very powerful effects on the full travel experience cycle– from inspiration to referral.

Visitors to film destinations are looking for this extra factor, an on location experience which will tell a story about their favorite films and their location, engaging their emotions. New product developments around the films such as location tours, film museums, exhibitions and the theming of existing tourist attractions can provide just that.

To create this experience and add to the direct promotional effects that a film production can bring to destinations, creating sustainable results, planning and a strategic approach to the development of this tourism areas is as important as for the rest. Let’s see how destinations around the world are attracting, promoting, developing and managing film tourism.

Bollywood around the world

With the number of Indians travelling abroad growing 20% year-on-year and ranking among the top five spenders globally, it is  not surprising that national Tourism Boards from around the world have been targeting Bollywood for a while now. As far as the attraction of the film industry is concerned, tourism boards of many countries, like Switzerland, have in the past used Bollywood to showcase the destinations to high-spending Indian travellers.

Bollywood director-producer Vipul Shah, who had shot movies in the UK, said in an economictimes article: “Foreign tourism boards in India are increasingly pitching for locations to producers and directors in India offering incentives ranging from tax rebate, free stays, visa facilitation, and in certain cases, they even bear the cost of production.” Many recent Bollywood blockbusters have been shot in foreign locales: Zoya Akhtar’s Zindagi Na Milege Dobara showed Spain extensively. Aditya Chopra’s EK Tha Tiger, starring Salman Khan, has been filmed in five different countries, including Ireland and South Africa, while Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Don has been shot in Germany.

Early this year, Spain Tourism received 600,000 enquiries from India after the release of Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara. One of the film’s sequences was shot at the famous Tomatino festival, which prompted travellers from India to visit Spain. The Spain Tourism Board spent about half a million on marketing campaigns using Zindagi clips. According to the Board, the number of visas issued to Indians, after the movie, went up 50-60%. Till June 2011 (before the movie was released in July), 46,000 Indians had visited Spain. “That number has multiplied after ZNMD,” said Madhu Salyankar, marketing head of Spain Tourism Board. “We offer facilitation with visas, discounts for hotel stays and travel, VAT refund of about 18% as well as faster approvals and other such sops,” he added.

Typically, most countries offer tax sops in the form of VAT refund ranging from 10-20%, depending on the location and the amount of budget spent on the location.

On the other hand, the Indian government is actively considering tax reimbursement on film shooting expenditure in the country to woo prominent filmmakers. Streamlining of visa procedures, speedy customs clearance for import of filming equipment, ensuring easy accessibility to locations and eliminating obstacles and offering financial incentives to producers are some of the proposals being finalised by the ministry to attract filmmakers. The ministry also proposes to ensure a single window clearance for licences and no-objection certificates for film makers for shooting at locations including security arrangements.

New Zealand and Tolkien Tourism

New Zealand is certainly one of the most obvious examples of how big an impact the film industry can have on a  destination’s tourism. ‘Tolkien Tourism’ is undeniably a big business in New Zealand. The annual tourist influx rose from 1.7 million in 2000 to 2.4 million in 2006 – a 40% surge (huffingtonpost). The NZ government is certainly very much aware of the benefits and recognizes the opportunity to trigger the imagination of millions of film goers worldwide, establishing a valuable image of New Zealand through the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the new Hobbit movies.

After the Lord of the Rings won an Oscar, Tourism NZ  launched a marketing campaign promoting NZ as “Best Supporting Country”.

Serious steps are taken to make sure that there are no missed opportunities. When,  in October 2010, the actor’s strike threatened to derail filming in New Zealand, the government made sure the Hobbit would remain in NZ by paying a large amount of money to the production company as well as agreeing to contribute to the marketing of the two films. But the officials knew they were up for a great deal. In exchange the film remains in New Zealand, and every DVD and download of The Hobbit will feature a Jackson-directed video promoting New Zealand as a tourist and filmmaking destination.

Apart from a long term marketing strategy and campaigns, additional initiatives towards product development include taking advantage of the film sets as photo ops for Tolkien tourists, a variety of specialized tours around the film’s locations and possibly a themed museum showcasing all the props used in the movies, amongst many others.

Virginia and the power of Disney

With Disney planning to spend $35 million to market Steven Spielberg’s movie, “Lincoln’” —filmed entirely in Virginia —  the state’s tourism agency is gearing up for opportunities to give Virginia worldwide exposure as a tourism destination.

Virginia, a state known for its Civil War history, already has a list of events planned this year commemorating the 150th anniversary of many of the war’s major battles and campaigns. The première of a legendary director’s movie on one of the era’s key figures is more than icing on the cake; it’s every tourism director’s dream.

Diane Béchamps, the agency’s vice president of marketing, told Virginia Business that Disney plans to spend $35 million to market “Lincoln.”  Virginia signed a contract with Dreamworks Studio, Spielberg’s film company, that includes several incentives for marketing, she added, including a premiere in Richmond, a trailer from the movie and footage from the filming that the agency will be able to use in its own marketing.  “The stars are lining up just right for us,” Bechamps said.

Among the initiatives shared during the luncheon will be marketing that invites tourists to follow in the footsteps of Lincoln in places he visited while in Virginia in 1864 and 1865.  There also will be campaigns to follow the footsteps of Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis — the actor who portrays Lincoln in the movie — while they filmed in Richmond. “We will have the power of Disney’s marketing behind us. We will be leveraging that,” said Rita McClenny, Virginia’s film commissioner.

Bangkok and a Hangover effect

Proper planning is necessary to avoid unfortunate situations as the one Tourism Authority of Thailand officials had to deal with, after negative destination images were projected through the Hangover 2 movie, losing initial enthusiasm.

Following the movie’s release, thousands of movie viewers were immediately left with a not so appealing image of Thailand and Bangkok, posting Twits like: “Hangover 2 was hilarious. Note to self: never go to Bangkok…” or “Staying away from Bangkok Thailand Lol for many reasons thanks Hangover 2”. Perhaps the worst hit was actually delivered by the actual actors in the movie, informing the whole world about their not so positive Thailand experience: “Severe food poisoning the first week…Let’s just say my body exploded.” (Ed Helms), or Justin Bartha admitting that  going there was one of his biggest regrets, and issuing a warning for anyone considering following in his footsteps.

While Tourism Authority of Thailand officials, were not certain about the effects, noting that the image painted was not inaccurate, but if they could have a say in it they would choose to portray different images of the country, the tourism industry can certainly take advantage of the publicity, as some tour groups have been offering “Hangover II tour” packages, including a boat trip along the Chao Phraya River as well as the temple and sky bar featured in the film, rounded off with a visit to a strip club.