If You Build it They Will Come… So Why Wouldn’t You?

A Look at the Benefits of Film Tourism for Tourists and Locations
A not so new phenomenon in the film industry has been trending within the past two decades. This trend is film tourism. With film driving a significant portion of the tourism market today, little discourse and information is available on the subject, yet many countries generate millions of dollars.

As a filmmaker, studier, or entrepreneur I call on YOU to be informed of film tourism and use your new industry knowledge to capitalize on a booming industry

The film and tourist industries struggle to define and capitalize on it while scholars attempt to contextualize its impact on society.


A very basic definition that is mutually agreed upon is tourism that includes visits to film sets, locations or imagined locations. This trend is taking precedence as many tourism boards are looking to cultivate similar relationships with large franchises such as Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings, and Twilight and the locations they support.


The Tourist
Previous to the writings of Peter Bolan, film induced tourism did not address the critical aspect of displacement theory. He claims that authenticity is key to tourists. Anne Buchmann furthers this idea to say that film tourists travel to authenticate themselves in an alternate social reality, like participants in a Renaissance Fair. It is important to remember that the key difference of film tourists to carnival role players, is that it is important to them that the alternate reality have a fixed geographical location.

Aside from the location intended to be portrayed, the fixed location can include visits to a movie studio and visits to a film/tv theme park or even another real place that was used as the intended location. Sometimes a real location (New Zealand country side) can be a “body double” for an imagined location (The Shire) (Connell).

Understanding the motivation behind film tourists is also essential to both the tourists and the locations looking to lure them in. Motivation in film tourism is described as push and pull factors (Mijalce).

Push Factors
-search for self-identity
-ego enhancement
-vicarious experience

Pull Factors

The intensity of these factors classify tourists into three categories

The Serendipitous
Happens to be in a location portrayed on film

The General
Participates in activities having to do with the film but does not journey to the location just for participation in film activities

The Specific
They pilgrimage to the location for self-actualization

The Locations

The location should look at a film as an investment. Tourism boards can estimate (based on celebrity presence and budget) the success of a film and offer tax incentives accordingly to a production. By helping out the film the location may immediately help the economy by creating specialized jobs in the area, not to mention the influx of cast and crew accommodation costs that will contribute to local hotels and restaurants.

In return the film can further capitalize on film tourism. New Zealand is still generating revenue from the LOTR Trilogy (Go Ahead! Click on LOTR). Britain saw an increase in tourism by 50% after the Harry Potter Films (Hudson) and Forks, Washington has many articles still creating buzz on the real life “Twilight Experience.”

Each of these sites displays the propensity at which film is marketed to promote tourism. It is not only on the website. It is the website.


More than anything film tourism needs discourse. It is happening more and more. It is a social act as well as a personal act and more importantly it is a hugely profitable act. Tourists pilgrimage just to see if what the saw virtually is to whatever extent true.

Works Cited
Bolan, Peter, Stephen Boy, and Jim Bell. ”We’ve Seen it in the Movies Let’s See If It’s True’: Authenticity and Displacement in Film-induced Tourism.” Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes 1 (2): n.page. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.
Buchmann, Anne, Kevin Moore, and David Fisher. “Experiencing Film Tourism. Authenticity & Fellowship.” Annals of Tourism Research 37 (1): 229- 248. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.
Connell, Joanne. “Progress in Tourism Management: Film Tourism- Evolution, Progress, and Prospects.” Tourism Management 33(5): 1007-1029. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.
Gjorgievski, Mijalce, and Sinolicka Melles Trpkova. “Movie Induced Tourism: A New Tourism Phenomenon.” Journal of Economics 3 (1): p 97-104. Web. 26 Nov.


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