Screen tourism, or film tourism, is a location that becomes popular with visitors because it has appeared in a film or television series. An early example of screen tourism is the musical film Sound of Music, which brings tourists to Salzburg in Austria ever since the film released in 1965.
Tourists enjoy visiting places they see on screen. Fans want to visit specific landmarks, places and buildings from scenes in their favourite TV shows and films. TV shows and films can as a result raise the profile of the city or country where the story is set.
Screen tourism can have a huge economic impact on the tourism industry. For example, there was a 50 per cent increase in visitors to New Zealand after the filming of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film series there. This brings millions of dollars to the New Zealand economy every year.
Game of Thrones presents a similar opportunity for Northern Ireland. Tourism NI estimates that the Game of Thrones series contributed to the number of visitors coming to Northern Ireland in 2016 – a total of 120,000 tourists generated around £30 million to the local economy.
Opportunities for businesses
When a new production is filmed in Northern Ireland, local businesses can benefit by providing the relevant skills and facilities to film crews. This can range from creative industries services to accommodation and transport.
An increase in screen tourism visitors to Northern Ireland means an increase in potential customers for tourism and hospitality businesses. By providing specific offerings for screen tourism visitors, businesses can make the most of the opportunity. Examples include:
- location tours
- themed food offerings
- visitor experiences
- fan events