DOT urged to promote film tourism in PH

Posted at 03/05/2014 7:43 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Tourism (DOT) should consider promoting the Philippines as an ideal destination for filming movies, an executive of an international travel search engine said.

“As predictions of global tourism growth rise to the greatest levels in history, filmmakers join tourism bodies to maximize the impact a film’s location has on today’s more adventurous travelers,” said Joachim Holte, chief marketing officer of Wego.

“Today’s traveller seeks inspiration and unique experiences; destinations that tell a story and capture the imagination,” he said.

“Both destination marketers and filmmakers have recognized that film-induced tourism creates a mutually beneficial promotion and caters to the growing desire of travelers seeking out the more unusual destinations and experience,” he pointed out.

He noted that in the Philippines, there is now a legislative initiative to push film tourism.

“Sen. Grace Poe is very publicly pushing a bill for more funding and support to promote film tourism in the Philippines,” he said.

In other areas in the world, he said, film and television can often spark the urge to visit the location they were filmed in.

“We saw this just recently after a survey of Australian travelers who cited New York and Europe as their dream Christmas destinations, inspired by film classics. A great example is New Zealand who have very successfully leveraged their natural treasures as the backdrop to the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Hobbit’ movies,” he said.

“It goes beyond taking selfies and laying on the same stretch of sand that Leonardo Dicaprio made famous on Phi Phi Island in Thailand,” Holte said.

“Film communicates insights into a country’s history and culture by emotionally connecting with an audience, and is far more effective than any stand-alone destination marketing campaigns,” he added.

“Within the world of online culture and social connectivity that we now live in, film is becoming one of the biggest opportunities tourism bodies have. Today’s travelers see themselves as explorers; they dig deeper into destinations than they did in the past and feel emotionally linked to destinations they’ve experienced on the big screen,” he noted.

For instance, Braveheart reportedly caused a 300-percent increase in visitation to Scotland in the 12 months following the release of Mel Gibson’s epic.

The Crown Hotel in Amersham, England whose Courtyard Suite was featured in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ was fully booked for three years following the release of the movie. Leonardo DiCaprio’s film, ‘The Beach,’ was said to be responsible for a 22-percent increase in youth market visits to Thailand.

“Television also plays a role in boosting tourism. Take the recent phenomenon of ‘Breaking Bad’, which brought an influx of visitors to Albuquerque, New Mexico and spurned shuttle tours and businesses ranging from ‘Blue Sweets’ to ‘Blue Bath Salts’.”

Iceland is the latest to monopolise on the opportunity to show the world their spectacular landscape, as highlighted in Ben Stiller’s ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’.

“Ben Stiller became an advocate for visiting Iceland, publicly declaring his awe of the country’s beauty, even including a song from popular local indie band, Of Monsters and Men, in the movie trailer,” added Holte. “Film has always inspired tourism but after New Zealand’s officials packaged up the country so successfully, with even their national airline taking advantage, destination marketers are taking more notice.”

Just recently, with Australia’s Gold Coast as a backdrop, Tourism Australia, in partnership with Tourism and Events Queensland, collaborated with Pritish Nandy Communications and Balaji Motion Pictures in the Bollywood film, ‘Shaadi Ke Side Effects’ (Side Effects of a Marriage), to promote Australia as the perfect choice for romantic holidays.

The Singapore Tourism Board invested $6.3 million for its ‘Film in Singapore’ scheme that subsidizes international film productions by up to 50 percent. Bollywood’s ‘Krrish’ was the first to take advantage of the scheme, and Indian tourist traffic to Singapore increased dramatically immediately after its release.

Last year, India’s Ministry of Tourism launched a ‘Land of Pi’ campaign on the back of Ang Lee’s film, ‘Life of Pi.’

In Ireland this month, the government announced it would activate what they refer to as the ‘Tom Cruise clause’, so film producers who bring in Hollywood stars receive tax relief.

Indonesia, too, has come into focus for Hollywood beyond Bali’s successful ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ phenomenon. Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Mari Pangestu has been working hard to bring big movie makers to Indonesia. Academy Award-winning director Michael Mann (Miami Vice, Public Enemy, Last of the Mohicans) is a huge fan having just filmed CYBER in the capital of Jakarta, schedule for release in 2015.

He recently told The Wall Street Journal that he loves Jakarta and rewrote CYBER, featuring Thor star Chris Hemsworth, to suit using Jakarta as a backdrop.

“Film tourism will continue to grow in Asia too,” said Holte. “Industry experts cite Asian travelers as one of the world’s greatest film tourists. As travel becomes more economically viable with more low cost carriers and simple online travel booking options, it can be assumed that dedicated fans in China, Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea (who are avid consumers of film and television) will pursue film based locations more frequently in the future.”

Wego.com is the leading travel search engine across the Asia-Pacific and Middle East and is used by millions of travelers each month to save time, pay less and travel more.

The company provides powerful yet simple to use tools that help travelers research trips, compare prices for flights and hotels across multiple websites and to book travel online.

Wego shows users an unbiased and channel neutral view of travel prices, providing a choice of booking direct with a hotel or airline, or via an online travel agent or aggregator.