I’m a set jetting movie buff who takes “location vacations.” There, I’ve admitted it. But I’m not the only one who likes to travel to destinations used as backdrops for movies and TV shows. In fact, according to TCI Research, more than 80 million travellers chose to visit movie locations worldwide in 2019.
Movie scenes and locations truly do inspire people to travel. Many tourism boards say location vacations — a term coined by a New York newspaper — increase after the release of a major Hollywood movie that was shot in their country. Example: After the release of the 1995 epic Braveheart, starring Mel Gibson, the Scottish tourism board reported a 300 per
cent visitor increase at locations used in the film. I was certainly motivated to visit the lovely Yorkshire countryside after watching the 2003 hit movie Calendar Girls. And, because I’m such a big James Bond fan, I
have visited dozens of places used as backdrops for those films. Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Chocolat and the The Da Vinci Code are just some of the other great movies that have inspired me to travel to locations used around the world.
Above: New York's Central Park has been used as a backdrop in more than 350 Hollywood movies.
Hit movies and series like Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings have motivated a whole new generation of “set jetting” — a term used to describe millennial movie travellers — and countries worldwide are rolling out the red carpet to welcome them back.
So, you might wonder, which countries have the most film locations that you can visit? Not surprisingly, the U.S. tops the list with 1,123 film locations, according to data released by Giggster, a U.K.-based marketplace platform. The United Kingdom is next with 187 film locations and Canada is third with 143.
Toronto, Alberta and Vancouver are the places where the majority of Hollywood productions have been shot in Canada — films like Fifty Shades of Grey (Vancouver), Brokeback Mountain (Alberta), Suicide Squad (Toronto), Fantastic Four (Toronto) and The Incredible Hulk (Toronto) have all inspired people to visit those areas of the country. Halifax, where scenes for the epic 1997 movie Titanic were shot, is still reaping the benefits from that Oscar-winning film’s overall appeal.
Above: The Louvre in Paris saw a dramatic increase in visitors after it starred in The Da Vinci Code movie.
Cities like London, Paris, Rome and New York offer lots of movie location tours, and Toronto, home of the world renowned Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), is getting into the act by offering tours of studios located in Canada’s largest city.
Even India is seeing a sharp increase in location vacations, thanks to the global success of its Bollywood productions. The Indian states of Goa, Gujarat, Jammu, Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh are anticipating over one million film tourists in 2022 and those visitors are expected to inject over $3 billion (U.S.) into the local economies.
Romantic Paris tops the list of cities that draw the most movie tourists, with Chicago, London, Morocco and Toronto rounding out the Top 5, according to the Giggster survey.
New York’s Central Park is the most-used film location in the world, with 352 movies being shot in the Big Apple’s most enduring landmark, according to Giggster.
Interestingly, L.A.’s Griffith Observatory has played a major role in the success of films — 64 of the highest grossing films (totalling $212,260,000 in box-office revenue) have been shot at that iconic location.
The U.S. states featured most in movies are New York, Arizona and Massachusetts, respectively.
So, the next time you go to a movie, don’t be surprised if afterwards you have an urge to visit a travel agent.
JUST THE FACTS
TOP 10 CITIES FOR MOVIE TOURISM
7. Mexico City
8. Los Angeles
9. New York
TOP 10 COUNTRIES FOR MOVIE TOURISM
1. United States
2. United Kingdom
TOP 5 FILM LOCATIONS
1. Central Park, New York
2. Griffith Observatory, Calif.
3. Vasquez Rocks Natural Park, Calif.
4. Niagara Falls, Canada
5. Trafalgar Square, London