I’m a lover of travel. I’m a lover of film. Thankfully, the plethora of occurrences and overlaps in these two seemingly separate arenas provided an incredible opportunity in that I didn’t have to choose one over the other when it came to selecting a profession.
As an actress, filmmaker, and wellness tourism leader, I’ve long seen this connection between the two. It was during an interview for my podcast, Never Settle, with David Zannoni, Delegate of CANACINE in Quintana Roo, Mexico—I am now proudly an Ambassador on its board of international creators—that I started to realize this long-standing trend was booming more than ever, particularly with plush destinations featuring wellness and luxury locations.
Screen or Film Tourism, as Zannoni describes, is when “people decide to go on vacation or otherwise travel to a location based on what they have seen in a film or a series.”
Movies of my upbringing as potential foreshadowing at a young age include discovering the remote islands off the coast of the Philippines in The Beach, navigating the erratic streets of India while feeling welcomed with generosity and love in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and touring from country to country as a woman reconnects with her self and later falling in true love again in Eat. Pray. Love.
More recently, Emily in Paris provides the urge to jet off to the stylish streets of Paris, adventure to an island retreat thanks to The White Lotus, or trip back in time to the U.K. for some Bridgerton affairs.
Why Film Tourism Now?
The world of tourism and film and television have been around for decades. So, why is there expansion now more than in the past, and what opportunities lie ahead for film and TV and tourism to partner up?
“There are a couple of things happening simultaneously,” Zannoni explains. “First, tourism is recovering after the tough years of the pandemic. In many countries, governments and tourist boards are looking to diversify the way to attract tourists [back again]. A way with proven success is to promote the country, region, city, area or even local resort through so-called screen tourism or film tourism.”
Zannoni continues, “At the same time, because of technological advances, content consumption has never been as high. Films and series can be watched 24/7 on phones, tablets, and computers in addition to the traditional sources of television and movie theatres. Demand for content is high, and production is booming.”
With the expansion of online platforms such as Netflix, Hulu and Apple TV+, content has a reach that is global and is accepted in any language with subtitles.
Opportunities for Tourism
Imagine having your favourite destination featured on the next HBO Max or Netflix hit show. I would watch it just because of the relatability to the location.
I’ll attest, after living in Boston for ten years, any movie that came out filmed in Beantown just to see some of my favourite parks and streets of my years living there. Most recently, I watched Something From Tiffany’s on Amazon Prime simply because my husband (fiancé at the time) proposed in Central Park, and we visited that same Tiffany’s location during the holidays.
Zannoni adds, “The opportunities for tourism to promote locations through the small and big screens, often via the streaming platforms that reach a global audience [where] local content can make a real global crossover, reaching audiences everywhere. This offers tremendous opportunities for tourist regions to promote their location through film and TV series, and governments, tourist boards, and streamers become allies in the global content contest.”
Opportunities for Film and TV
On the flip side, there are equal opportunities for film and TV to utilize tourist locations for production sets. For the most part, the infrastructure is already prepped to go, providing a location-set design framework and housing for the production crew and talent.
From a financial and budgeting perspective, Zannoni shines a light on the opportunity to “make use of production incentives provided by governments to invite film and TV productions whereby productions can save or reduce costs to diversify their map of locations…making use of overall cheaper labour costs and local expenses, and from a marketing point of view.”
What’s on the Horizon?
The 35,000-foot sky’s the limit here when it comes to what film and TV and tourism can do together moving forward. With streaming platforms accessible and increasing in numbers in more countries and subscribers daily, the continued reach for both sides of the screen tourism category is a golden opportunity.
Zannoni agrees. “The synergy is natural and organic: attractive tourist locations will continue to be, or will become, content production hubs because their locations are popular for content creation, and at the same time, that content attracts another sort of —the screen tourist or film tourist—to the locations. The relationship is circular and will continue to strengthen itself.”
Personally, I’d love to see an integration of nutritional dishes from featured films on the menus at varying wellness resorts. Or, a yoga class inspired by the music and flow from a character and soundtrack from a TV series.
Sara Quiriconi is an actress, model, host, writer, producer and entrepreneur. As a cancer survivor and resilient soul overcoming various health challenges early on, she’s an advocate of being a creator, not a victim, to create your own reality.
Sara’s mission is to story-tell, impact and inspire with a legacy of empowerment that lasts far beyond her years. Founder of Live Free Media, LLC., author of Living Cancer Free, and host of the motivational Never Settle podcast, Sara truly is a dynamic character across many creative fields and a warrior of light.
Connect with Sara at saraquiriconi.com.