GTOA’s Chief Executive, Mike Bugsgang, believes that interest in film and television locations is helping to stimulate business for organisers and attractions
Members of the Group Travel Organisers Association (GTOA) are reporting that demand for trips to film and television locations have seen considerable growth in the past year. It seems the appetite for such visits is starting to challenge the traditional haunts for groups, such as gardens and museums. This demand is undoubtedly being fuelled by the spate of iconic television programmes and films that have hit screens over the past couple of years. Group travel organisers are constantly looking for new destinations, and by linking trips to locations that have prominence in the media, it is a sure-fire way to stimulate interest and fill capacity. Group visits to places like Holmfirth in Yorkshire, the setting for the much-loved long running TV series, Last of the Summer Wine, have become a regular feature in itineraries, even though the series finished many years ago. However, more recent programmes such as Sky Atlantic’s Fortitude has created almost instant demand for Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, whereby the popularity of the psychological thriller is helping to generate group sales aboard cruises to Arctic regions.
Research commissioned by Creative England, partnered by VisitEngland, found that film and TV tourism brought in around £100-140 million to the economy in England, excluding London in 2014. The study covered screen locations such as West Bay in Dorset, where Olivia Coleman and David Tennant investigated murder in ITV’s Broadchurch; Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, which is the site of Hogwarts in Harry Potter; the Oxfordshire village of Bampton (Downton Abbey); Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire (Merlin and the new Star Wars); and Wollaton Hall, a hilltop mansion in Nottingham (The Dark Knight Rises). Wales has played a huge part in the BBC’s Doctor Who series over the years. The programme continues to be filmed all over Wales, with its home base at Roath Lock in Cardiff Bay; a 16,000-square metre purposebuilt BBC site where Casualty is also created.
It’s not normally possible to tour the studios, but you can see everything relevant to the series at the nearby Doctor Who Experience. Scotland’s tourism figures have been boosted by the country’s appearance in various James Bond films including the most recent, Skyfall. VisitScotland has also produced a map for Bollywood fans, after seeing a rise in the number of Indian productions using Scottish locations. Northern Ireland’s tourism is also benefiting from the massively popular HBO Games of Thrones television series. Antrim’s causeway coast and glens are the setting for the magical, medieval adventure story, which has been filmed in castles and beaches across the region, leading to the creation of Game of Thrones itineraries with tour and coach operators. Even HM The Queen visited the set in 2014. Revivals of old favourites look certain to maintain interest in visiting film locations. BBC’s Poldark, featuring heartthrob Aidan Turner, spotlights the windswept vistas of Cornwall, while the upcoming Dad’s Army film, starring Bill Nighy and scheduled for release in 2016, has Bridlington in Yorkshire as the backdrop for the fictional Walmington-onSea. These productions and others in the pipeline are sure to keep the ‘Set-Jetter’ effect buoyant in the foreseeable future.