You’re watching a film or TV show and are as in awe of the beautiful setting as the superb storyline. You want to see it with your own eyes and walk in the footsteps of your favourite character. So, you find out where it was filmed, book your flights and hotel, then start researching the key locations you need to visit while you are there.
You aren’t alone – travelling to destinations for this very reason has risen significantly over the last few years.
In fact, tourism motivated by TV or movies has become so popular that it is now known as set-jetting and according to TripAdvisor, 1 in 5 global travellers have been on this type of holiday.
Although travellers have been heading to destinations they have seen on the big screen for years, it has never been as easy as it is today, which may account for the sudden surge. Not only can you explore the natural film set for yourself, tourism is often centred around this with guided tours aplenty.
Fans of Breaking Bad are heading to Albuquerque, New Mexico, while Glen Etive in Scotland has seen a 40% increase in tourists since Skyfall, Harry Potter and Braveheart were all filmed here. Likewise, Thailand’s Maya Bay, which was made famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio film The Beach, has seen the number of visitors increase to more than 5,000 a day.
Earlier this year a group of superfans from the USA even made the news when they joined hoards of other tourists in Cornwall to see the setting of the hit BBC drama, Poldark.
Then, of course, there is Lord of the Rings. This trilogy generated more than $7 billion in tourism for New Zealand in one year alone.
Croatia has become a ‘Kingdom of Tourism’ thanks to Game of Thrones
Broadway Travel has now predicted the holiday trends for 2019 and found that tourism, which has already increased to both Croatia and Iceland due to Game of Thrones, will continue to rise next year with the release of the 8th and final season – which is expected in the first half of the year.
This has been dubbed the ‘Game of Thrones effect’ and has resulted in Croatia becoming a ‘Kingdom of Tourism’ since the first series came to our screens in 2011.
Asta Skujyte visited Dubrovnik, the fictional capital of the Seven Kingdoms, King’s Landing, with her husband in 2015, after HBO aired Season 5.
The self-confessed ‘history geek’ travelled from Rovinj to Dubrovnik primarily because it was a country on her “to visit” list and she wished to see the architecture from the Roman Empire. But, she describes being able to see the filming locations as a “very pleasant addition”.
Asta describes herself as a fan of the show, but not a hardcore one. She says: “If somebody woke me up in the middle of the night and start questioning me about Targaryen family tree, I wouldn’t be able to answer that. But I can quote Tyrion Lannister.”
She recalls listening to the Game of Thrones soundtrack in the car on the way to Dubrovnik where, she explains, “we went to the Fort Lovrijenac which serves as the Red Keep in the show. There I also climbed the steps of the Baroque Staircase that becomes the Stairs to the Great Sept of Baelor and Min?eta Tower where the scenes of Daenerys in the House of the Undying were filmed.”
She continues, “One of the most impressive locations was the Fortress of Kliss that in the show is the City of Meereen. In Trsteno we visited gardens that are The Gardens of Red Keep. In the city of Split, there is The Basement of Diocletian’s Palace where they filmed the scenes of Daenerys’ Throne Room.”
Asta and her husband saw several themed tours but decided to search for the locations by themselves, “The hardest one to find was the Papali?eva Street in Split where the scenes of Slave Rebellion were filmed, but we located that spot in the end.”
Asta is a keen set-jetter, she says: “I’ve been to Scotland, where my other favourite TV show “Outlander” was filmed, but I have visited only Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Stirling, so there are many more locations I would like to go to. Game of Thrones related I would like to go to Belfast in Ireland since this country is also on my “to visit” list.
There is a downside to set-jetting
While films and TV shows have put some previously lesser-known destinations and attractions on the map, and as a result increased tourism and the revenue that comes with that, there are downsides.
The sheer numbers flying over to Dubrovnik could potentially result in it losing its World Heritage status and it has had to limit the number of tourists arriving by cruise ship as a result. Maya Bay had to close temporarily in June this year to help it recover from the pollution caused by thousands of people arriving on boats every day and when it does reopen, tourist numbers will be limited. The Scottish Highlands have had issues with litter and fly-tipping. While, Grjotagja Cave, in Iceland, has had to close temporarily due to the ‘lack of respect’ visitors have shown the natural hot spring, which was visited by Jon Snow and Ygritte, and described as the season’s most romantic scene.
Measures will have to be put in place to ensure tourists can see their favourite setting exactly as it is portrayed on the big screen and not covered in rubbish or worse, destroyed beyond repair. Although this may limit when and how many can go, it will mean you get to see the natural beauty and won’t have to peer through crowds to do so.
As for where the next travel hotspot will be – only hit TV shows and movies will tell…