Do Movies Inspire Tourism?

How Cinema Affects International Tourism

A Potpourri of Vestiges Guest Post

By Destination Infinity

Shahrukh Khan, Bollywood in Switzerland

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, Directed by Mani Ratnam, starring Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai
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 shooting location for The Lord of the Rings in New Zealand, Directed by Peter Jackson
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 @ 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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  1. blogging and travel this seems like a great combination.. for example fort aguda in goa where a lot of movies have been shot and is now easily recognizable anywhere

  2. Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts... cinema and tourism are indeed connected by an eternal bond!!! :-)

  3. I agree with you completely, movies do effect tourism of a place a lot. Its like perfect advertisement. That is why governments of different states in India provide lot of help to makers of the movie as that benefits state tourism too. Although as far as i know its easier shooting in foreign locations than in India, at-least movie makers complain about that. Anyways you see that famous from the movie Dil Chahta Hai made Fort Aguada of Goa so famous, there are numerous examples like you mentioned correctly.

  4. so true ... Zindagi Milegi movie had .. promoted .. European tourism ... big time and Switzerland being Indian favourite for middle high class honeymoon all thanks to Late Yash Chopra promoting Kashmir and then Switzerland ... then 3 idiots made Leh available for everyone !! :) Gosh as many I think about I see .. movies have actually increased Indian footfalls in the places shown ! Apt Post Murtaza!

  5. Martin Bradley Of course, movies inspire tourism. I'm sure die-hard fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings will want to visit New Zealand to see where their favourite film/book was 'located'. (Luckily, I'm not a sufficient fan of either to want to trek to the otherwise of the world to see mountains, valleys and rivers that I can see here in Ireland). But what movie fan hasn't wanted to visit Rome (3 COINS IN A FOUNTAIN), Paris (MIDNIGHT IN PARIS) or New York (MANHATTAN) after seeing the movie. I still remember with fondness visiting Cong in Co Mayo where THE QUIET MAN was filmed and making a pilgrimage to the park in London where David Hemmings was sure he photographed a murder in BLOW UP. I still hope one day to visit the small village in Scotland that featured in LOCAL HERO and maybe stand in the same spot that James Stewart stood in when he pulled Kim Novak from the water in VERTIGO. Travel, they say, broadens the mind and a lot of us owe a good deal of our education to what we seen on the screen so it is inevitable the two should go together. Oh, and it was a fine article, too

  6. Martin, I just loved every bit of your comment. Now, I have watched most of the films that you so beautifully talked about and I just can't agree more with what you have said. As a cineaste, I myself would love to visit each one of those places/shooting locations.

  7. Well... I couldn't have agreed more.... Indian Tourism is still in its evolution phase and has a lot to learn... and then there are social and cultural barriers!!! Btw, thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts!!! :-)

  8. Thanks for shearing your thoughts. It's a great post to read.


Thanks for sharing for valuable opinion. We would be delighted to have you back.