How Cinema Affects International TourismA Potpourri of Vestiges Guest Post
By Destination Infinity
Switzerland is one of the most sought after tourism destination for people living in India. How did people come to know about the wonderful landscapes and mountains of this little country, when such sights can be enjoyed in many (larger) countries around Europe? Simple - Hundreds of Bollywood and regional language movies/songs have been shot at Switzerland! Right from Raj Kapoor/Shammi Kapoor to Shah Rukh Khan/Govinda, many of the biggest stars of the Indian movie industry have acted in movies/songs with a Swiss landscape, as a backdrop.
When I went on a sight-seeing trip to Ooty, our tour guide stopped the vehicle at certain locations and explained to us the movies/scenes shot in that location. Surprisingly, we were instantly able to associate the scene with the location. For example, when he said that certain scenes in the movie 'Roja', that were supposed to be Kashmir, were actually shot at Ooty, we were taken by surprise and we could instantly recognize the location. Needless to say, we enjoyed the trip and the info presented to us.
Some locations are even named after movies in which they appear! There is a water falls near Coimbatore that is curiously called, 'Vaidehi falls'. When I asked for the reason for naming the falls, someone there told me that since some scenes in 'Vaidehi Kathirundhal' (Tamil movie) were shot at that location, the entire water falls was named after the movie, in order to increase its popularity among tourists!
|Athirappilly Falls: Shooting Location for Raavan|
After the release and popularity of 'Slumdog Millionaire', many foreigners wanted to see the living conditions in slums and hence 'slum tours' are now being organized at Dharavi (Mumbai). 'Life of Pi' might similarly increase tourist footfall to Pondicherry/Munnar, where some scenes of the movie were filmed.
Not only in India, but even internationally, there have been many instances where a tourist spot/host country gained immense popularity because it appeared in a movie. For example, New Zealand has been in the tourist map of many westerners, because a few super-hit moives like Lord Of The Rings (LOTR), Narnia and more recently, The Hobbit were all shot at scenic localities of New Zealand! The New Zealand tourism website even has a special section called, 'Take a journey through middle-earth'.
London has taken movie-inspired tourism to a whole new level - MovieLondon.NET lists all the popular movies/scenes shot at prominent locations in London on a map, making it easier for visitors to identify, navigate and visit the locations.
Does that mean that instead of advertising in newspapers, magazines, TV & Internet, Governments can sponsor/produce movies and use those movies as advertisements? My best guess is, fully sponsored movies may feel more like ads, instead of giving the movie experience to visitors. There are already enough coffee table books and tourist itineraries about most places, and making movies primarily to promote tourism might result in documentaries instead of presenting stories with interesting plots and characters. Locations and scenes should compliment a strong story-line, and not the other way round.
|Hobbiton: The Lord of the Rings|
However, the New Zealand Government is reported to have sponsored a certain percentage of the production costs of Lord Of The Rings trilogy, in order to increase tourist foot falls. While this worked for New Zealand, not every country/location shown in every movie becomes a sought-after tourist destination.
Switzerland got many Bollywood movies made in its country, not by sponsoring or producing movies, but by making it easier/simpler for Bollywood directors and producers to shoot movies over there. They make it very easy to obtain visas for movie stars/crew and even arranged all the equipment needed for shooting a film, locally. In short, they enabled the movie production ecosystem to thrive and benefited by increased tourist influx, even in the long-term. Yes, people don't forget their favorite scenes/songs so easily!
Of course there are two sides to every coin. Increased commercial movie shooting and tourist arrivals might lead to more littering, over-usage and exploitation of local resources, increased prices/real-estate costs (even for the locals), more hotels/guest houses and other commercial establishments leading to artificial - instead of the natural green surroundings, increase in traffic, damage to local monuments, etc. Shooting movies might invite opposition from local residents/local tourists and result in unwanted crowds.
Question to the audience: What role (if any) do movies play in deciding your tour itinerary?
About Author -
Destination Infinity is a 31 year old blogger from Chennai (India) who has an opinion on everything and is an expert on nothing! He has been blogging for more than 6 years @ destinationinfinity.org. Recently, he has published an eBook titled, 'Happiness Guide for Tourists Visiting India: 50 Exciting Things To Do'.
Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your feedback is highly appreciated!
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