2011: Global tourists and the changing nature of the vacation experience  >  Consuming places: tourist interactions in destinations

 

The impacts of film tourism on destinations.

Written by: Blower, Kelly

University: Wolverhampton

Abstract:
Film tourism is a relatively new and growing phenomenon, however in comparison to other types of tourism; very little is known about it, apart from the many impacts it is already having upon destinations and their communities. This discussion paper therefore intends to identify and illustrate the impacts caused by film tourism.

Key words:
Film tourism, Impacts, Destinations.

As described by Hudson and Ritchie (2006, p.387) "film tourism is a growing phenomenon worldwide, fuelled by both the growth of the entertainment industry and the increase in international travel", resulting therefore in destinations globally seeking whenever and wherever possible to associate themselves, with a successful motion picture film that will entice any potential film tourist to visit their destination, (Carl et al. 2007, p.51).

Film tourism, albeit a relatively new phenomenon is growing rapidly in popularity, as many tourists nowadays are continuously seeking the experience of escaping to a different 'world', in which they can familiarize with. However with the growth in popularity comes the growth in problems, of which are mainly the impacts on the destinations and the locals as a result of the tourists seeking to participate film tourism, and the film makers using the land and its resources to create its blockbuster movie.

Therefore in exploring film tourism, it was essential to review the positive and negative impacts upon destinations such as Forks and Slovakia. The two locations of forks and Slovakia were chosen as, in the case of forks, the impacts seen and encountered were almost completely positive with only the issues of its breach of carrying capacity, its misrepresentation due to falsely claiming more of the film was filmed there than it actually was, to its potential to ultimately see its economy fail as a result of the eventual lack of interest after the Twilight franchise has lost its appeal and been forgotten about. The location of Slovakia was chosen, as the film 'the hostel' almost completely destroyed Slovakia's reputation, appeal, as well as the reputation and perception of its people.

In reviewing the impacts of film tourism, it was found that the negative impacts on destinations far out weighed the positive impacts. The few positive impacts were found to be that film tourism not only contributed to the development of new jobs within the film location, but also generated more revenue for its economy as well as generally raising the awareness of it location in the world to other countries, and the general population of whom some of which may still be confused as to its existence and whereabouts. Another prominent positive impact is that overall it is highly likely that it would also improve the business aspects such as generating more new trade for the local area and the local people.
The aforementioned points are also supported by Robinson et al. (2011, p.194) who say that "emphasis had been placed on film's role in destination promotion" and that "it is important to also note that most destinations actually attract film for the economic impact of film production and promote these productions to attract further production" Croy and Walker (2003, in Robinson et al, 2011, p.194).

However, in evaluating film tourism it was also found that, the negative impacts appeared to consist of a wide range of aspects, from damage to the natural environment to ultimately the short life span of a film tourism destination. Amongst the negative impacts are firstly the interaction between the film tourists and the local residents, as with many other types of tourism, tourists can bring with them many problems such as the commoditisation of the local area, to satisfy the requirements of the tourists before that of the requirements of the locals, meaning that the local tourist shops may be turned into souvenir shops to flog memorabilia for tourists to take home or as part of the film set, thereby making it more of an attraction than a local business in which locals may have used to purchase their daily shopping. Furthermore the interaction between the tourists and the locals can further have a negative effect, because of any displacement that may take place due to any breach of the locations carrying capacity which would then result in the local area being overcrowded, with potentially limited or no available parking and an over consumption of the local resources, to name but a few. Additionally, an increase in visitor numbers would undoubtedly then encourage the local businesses and government to increase the prices of everything from fuel to food and drink, in order to capitalise upon the success of the film tourism and turn it into a profit without any consideration for the local residents living there all year round.

Therefore as summarised, there are many problems and benefits to encouraging and agreeing to filming taking place within the destination area; however it is also acknowledged that with the correct planning and management, the majority of the problems occurring can be avoided whilst still allowing the locals and the destination to thrive upon the benefits created and produced, as a result of successfully engaging in film tourism. It should be mentioned though, that currently because of the insufficient amount of literature and research upon film tourism, there is no guarantee that it is a stable and promising new tourism that will remain popular for many years to come.

Carl, D. Kindon, S. and Smith, K. (2007). Tourists' Experiences of Film Locations: New Zealand as 'Middle-Earth'. Journal of Tourism Geographies. 9 (1) pp. 49-63.

Croy, G. and Heitmann, S. (2011) Tourism and Film. In. Robinson, P. Heitmann, S. and Dieke, P. (eds.) Research Themes for Tourism. Wallingford: CABI.

Hudson, S. And Ritchie, J.R.B. (2006). Promoting destinations via film tourism: An empirical identification of supporting marketing initiatives. Journal of Travel Research, 44 (4), pp.387 -396.