Shows like Ted Lasso, Bridgerton, White Lotus and Derry Girls continue to inspire ‘set-jetters’
According to a study by Photoaid, 78 per cent of travellers are likely or very likely to book travel to destinations showcased in a movie or TV show. Think France for Emily in Paris fans, Ireland for Derry Girls viewers, Britain for Bridgerton lovers and Hawaii, Italy and Thailand for those who are hooked on White Lotus.
“Film and movie tourism is certainly a growing trend. The connection between popular films or television series and tourism has become increasingly significant, with fans expressing a desire to visit the locations where their favourite scenes were filmed,” Sandra Moffatt, country manager — Canada for Tourism Ireland, told Travel Courier. “Film and TV productions have significantly contributed to tourism in Ireland, with the power of popular shows like Game of Thrones and Derry Girls catapulting Northern Ireland into the spotlight over the last decade, and the inclusion of Irish scenes in blockbuster franchises like Star Wars and Harry Potter making filming locations across the country a must-visit destination for fans.”
Meet the set-jetters
Continuing off a major trend for 2023 travel, Expedia’s data shows that travellers will again turn to television sets and movie screens for travel inspiration in 2024.
“Expedia’s Set-Jetting Forecast 2024 found that more than half of international travellers said TV shows and films inspire their travel plans; and that nearly 30 per cent now say that TV shows and movies are more influential than they were before,” said Lynda Falcone, VisitBritain national travel trade manager, Canada. “TV shows were more of a draw for destinations than Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, with breathtaking landscapes and outdoorsy locations generating most interest, followed by lesser-known locales and beaches.”
According to the British Film Institute, in 2019, inbound tourists spent an estimated £892 million in film-related screen tourism in the UK, up from £729 million in 2017.
“Screen tourism provides Britain with a valuable opportunity to shine the spotlight on regional destinations, drive urgency across Britain and appeal to a global audience,” Falcone said. “For example, Birmingham and the West Midlands used Peaky Blinders to put local experiences on the map from Peaky Blinders pubs to the Black Country Living Museum where many scenes were filmed.”
In the limelight
The rise in popularity of TV and film tourism has even led tour operators to create itineraries based on these cult favourites. As Wonka starring Timothée Chalamet debuted last month, luxury travel company Red Savannah announced a new tailor-made A Family Adventure in England itinerary for those looking to immerse themselves in the world of Wonka and explore some of the key locations where the movie was filmed.
“The combination of iconic English sights (such as Stonehenge and the Tower of London), quirky participative experiences (such as walking with alpacas in the Cotswolds) and a handful of Wonka inspired activities (like chocolate making and enjoying afternoon tea with ‘fluffy floss’) has been a real winner for families seeking to inspire children,” shared Red Savannah’s director of marketing, Sarah-Leigh Shenton, adding that Bridgerton and Emily in Paris inspired itineraries are also available.
After the release of season two of White Lotus, San Domenico Palace, where the series was based, sold out for the remainder of the year and searches for “Sicily Hotel” increased by 400%.
Meanwhile, Kathleen Costello, director, marketing/communications for Wailea Resort Association, says the destination is still benefiting from the attention of season one of White Lotus, which was set at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea.
“Absolutely, they are still reaping the rewards but long before White Lotus Four Seasons was popular,” she added. “Years ago Modern Family shot a vacation there and it’s one of the highest netted reruns because it’s a two-part [episode] and people still talk about that.”
Looking to what’s in store for 2024, Moffatt said season two of the Netflix hit Wednesday is set to begin filming in Ireland, along with a number of shows that are still under wraps. New attractions for visitors to experience include The Derry Girls Experience, which opened this past July and will remain open throughout 2024; as well as new displays at the HBO Game of Thrones Studio Tour such as a ‘Red Wedding’ exhibit debuting in February in time for the launch of House of the Dragon – season two.
“Many tour operators integrate screen locations for film and TV as part of their standard departure programmes or can create customized itineraries based on client’s specific interest,” she said. “In addition to the attractions created around iconic shows, a walking tour is always a great way to see the sights connected to the locality where famous shows are filmed – such as the Derry Girls Tour.”
Over the past decade, VisitBritain has been promoting the destination through film and will debut a new film and TV campaign later this year.
“VisitBritain’s research shows that films and TV are powerful motivators for travel,” Falcone added. “More than a third — 34 per cent — of visitors considered ‘visiting locations from my favourite TV/film shows filmed on location in Britain’ as a dream activity to do in Britain.”
Falcone says that Wonka and the current season of The Crown are currently popular and anticipates that season three of Bridgerton; Steven Speilberg’s Masters of the Air with Tom Hanks; Matthew Vaughn’s Argylle with Henry Cavill; and the new season of House of the Dragon will garner attention over the coming year.
For clients who are interested in TV and movie locations in Britain, there are a growing range of visitor experiences available like booking a trip on North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which was featured in 2023 blockbusters Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning and Indiana Jones & The Dial of Destiny.
“In Bath, try a Bridgerton walking tour with its modern take on life in Regency England,” she said. “Or Harry Potter fans can ride the Jacobite Steam Engine mirroring the route of the fictional Hogwarts Express across the Glenfinnan Viaduct and the Scottish Highlands or explore the wonders of Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter in London.”
Finally, fans of The Crown can visit filming locations like Wilton House in Oxfordshire, which doubles as Buckingham Palace, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire (Windsor Castle), Ardverikie House near Inverness (Balmoral Castle) and York Minster (St George’s Chapel in season six).
By the numbers
A look at Britain’s TV tourism boom
- Bridgerton: England’s stately homes reported a “Bridgerton factor” — Castle Howard said the number of visitors aged 18-24 to its website increased by more than 3,400% after the program was released.
- Happy Valley: The BBC drama sent hotel searches in Expedia in its setting of Yorkshire up 105%.
- Ted Lasso: The Apple TV+ show prompted a 160% surge in Expedia searches for Richmond, London, after season two (in October 2021); with searches also up 100% following season three (May 2023). U.S. fans accounted for 65 % of searches, followed by Australians and Canadians.
- Gentleman Jack: Shibden Hall, as seen in the series, reported that visitors increased 700% in 2019 after the first series aired.
- Poldark: VisitCornwall reported that Poldark influenced an estimated 14% of all visitors to the area (2018).
- Game of Thrones: One in six visitors were reportedly influenced to holiday in Northern Ireland due to Game of Thrones (2018).
For more information on the walking tour in Derry visit: www.derrycitytours.com/our-tours/derry-girls-tour/.
For more on film and TV highlights in Ireland visit: www.ireland.com/en-ca/things-to-do/themes/ireland-on-screen/ireland-on-screen/.
For film and TV inspired group tours in English and French in Britain visit Tours International: tours-international.com/group-travel/film-tv-locations.
For film and TV FIT and group day tours across Britain check out Imagine experiences: imaginexperiences.com/experiences/.