Wales has become increasingly popular as a shooting location for both feature films and television shows. Among the many titles that feature Welsh film locations are Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, Captain America, Merlin and half a dozen pictures in the James Bond franchise. Cardiff is also home to the Dr Who Experience and the Torchwood Memorial in the Cardiff Bay. Capital Region Tourism was therefore keen to understand more about ‘film induced tourism’ and how it might further benefit local businesses and enhance the visitor economy.
They are not the first to see the potential value of screen tourism to a destination. New Zealand famously based much of its brand and marketing on its association with the Lord of the Rings franchise. London has launched destination marketing campaigns to tie-in with films like Bridget Jones’ Diary and The DaVinci Code. People continue to make pop-culture pilgrimage visits to destinations like Platform 9¾ at Kings Cross or the ‘real’ Downton Abbey at Highclere Castle.
From the outset, however, we were keen to divorce all of the film tourism hype from the reality – insisting that a competent strategy had to be anchored in primary market research to genuinely understand the power of film and television to motivate tourist trips. We were therefore delighted to join forces with Arkenford who carried out an exhaustive survey and segmentation analysis to understand precisely how films and television shows influence tourist behaviour. Martine Ainsworth-Wells – a destination marketing expert and a veteran of major film-related campaigns for London & Partners – helped to translate that analysis into a practical action plan.
The study helped to explode several ‘myths’ and challenge the conventional wisdom about film tourism, identifying where the value really lies and how best to exploit it.