Films, like The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series or the James Bond franchise, have drawn visitors to the locations they were shot at, boosting tourism to the host country in the process. As it turns out, the small screen doesn’t lag behind in terms of views as well. Popular shows have dedicated audiences who don’t mind splurging to visit spots where their favourite series was canned.
"The world has become a smaller place and TV shows have created awareness amongst Indian tourists to venture to offbeat places. Any location featured prominently instantly becomes aspirational. We have witnessed a substantial increase in enquiries, as well as booked holidays, for destinations after they were promoted in TV shows,” says Vishal Suri, chief executive officer, tour operating, Kuoni India, adding that MasterChef Australia and MTV Roadies inspired many tourists to visit places in Australia and South Africa. Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey and Game Of Thrones too helped increase the number of travellers to the US, UK and Ireland respectively.
It isn’t just international shows that propel tourism. When onscreen pair Ram and Priya Kapoor from the popular TV show Bade Achhe Lagte Hain visited Australia, more than 25 million viewers tuned in to catch the 16 episodes filmed in Sydney. According to research conducted by Tourism Australia in Mumbai and Delhi, viewers of the show recalled seeing the country on it. “The promotion had positive impact on viewers to visit Australia,” says Nishant Kashikar, country manager India, Tourism Australia.
Not surprising, considering that TV serials in India are as popular as Bollywood films. Karan Anand, head – relationships, Cox and Kings, says, “Foreign locales add to exotic appeal of the show. Tourism boards have realised this and encourage serials to shoot at their destinations."
Breaking Bad: The show revolves around drug trafficking, addiction and violence, yet Albuquerque in New Mexico is seeing a rise in the number of tourists visiting spots where the high school chemistry teacher turned meth lord. Now pastry shops in the area sell doughnuts topped with blue candy designed to resemble crystal meth while crystal blue bathing salts are available at beauty stores.
Game of Thrones: The fantasy epic has reportedly boosted tourism for several countries and regions, including Morocco, Croatia, Ireland and Scotland. While the number of hotel booking have gone up in Morocco in locations where the series was filmed, over 20,000 tourists visited Northern Ireland for a Game of Thrones exhibition featuring costumes and props from the show, and sites such as the bridge that Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth were captured on.
Modern Family: When the cast of the hit sitcom took a trip to Wyoming in the US, the state received advertising worth $5,00,000 (according to the state tourism department). “Once the show is broadcast, combined with the re-airings that follow, the state will attain publicity on a scale we could never afford in our tourism marketing budget,” said Diane Shober, director of tourism for the state at the time, adding, “We truly believe that not only the guest ranches, but all of Wyoming's tourism industry is poised to gain a major boost from this popular show."
Downton Abbey: The hit UK show has audiences around the world intrigued with what goes on inside an English manor. Highclere Castle, the 19th century property of the eighth Earl and Countess of Carnarvon that is the setting for the series, has reportedly received over 1,00,000 visitors since the show started. Incidentally, the town of Downton that only shares its name with the fictional show also attracts several visitors.