A Good Idea. Part II. 


(Continues from A good idea. Part I.))

In addition to film commissions, there are countries that decide to step further and go all the way. Many tourism offices partner with producers and distributors to assist in different campaigns. This company in which you are organized in 2001, on behalf of VisitBritain, a great event to promote Great Britain thanks to the premiere of the first Harry Potter film. The magical and mysterious potential of the islands was highlighted in relation to the film, and maps and tourist routes inspired by the film were worked on. Likewise, on behalf of VisitScotland, Interface Tourism Spain teamed up with Disney Pixar in 2012 to boost the Brave premiere and highlight the Scottish landscapes in which it was located, with a campaign that included personalized visits from a traditional Scottish bagpiper in costume to the different newsrooms and a projection designed only for redheads. Our very own Jamaica promotes itself today as the birthing place of James Bond and location of many of this films.

In studies conducted in the UK, 8 out of 10 citizens use the cinema when choosing a destination for their holidays and 1 in 5 will expressly visit the location of their favorite film, so the issue is not small potatoes.

But, ah, we come here to the heart of the matter. To promote a destination as a location it is necessary for the producer to find it profitable to go and shoot in it. New Zealand was lucky to include Peter Jackson among its locals, but others do not have it so easy. If not, let’s ask Juan Antonio Bayona, who insisted on bringing the production of the Hollywood blockbuster World War Z 2 to his homeland (when it was supposed to be directed by him) and to whom the American producer, with the (scarce) tax incentives offered by Spain, said no.

Tax incentives are the foundation of the entire film industry and its tributaries, the “you give me 100 and I give you something back.” In the peninsula, Spanish productions receive back between 18% and 20% of what they invest, and foreign, 15%. In the Canary Islands, for example, the incentive to the nationals is from 38% to 40% and, to the international ones, of 35%. Hence the boom of films being shot in the Canary Islands. To make a comparison, France has incentives of between 36% and 43% and countries like Austria, Croatia, Germany and the Netherlands are between 20% and 30% percent. Although we have advantages (variety of landscapes, climate, quality of audiovisual technicians …), economically we still have much to travel.

In the short run, it may seem that wealth is reduced by giving back much of the economic investment a producer makes in the country. In the long run, as has been demonstrated over time, the benefit increases and is maintained. Film tourism is only the last link in a chain in which a specific area is promoted to achieve its national or international positioning. Yes, the audiovisual industry is the first beneficiary, but not the only one.

The United States has made Hollywood, for more than a century, a mean to communicate its identity and way of life. The history, the myths and the legends of the country have little more than two centuries, but they have been able to use them often enough. And there is no better guide to the Big Apple than the succession of films, series and shows that have walked its streets.

Obviously, not everything is rosy. The B-side of film tourism is the exploitation of destinations, and the best example (or at least the most talked about) is that of the paradisiac Maya Bay in Thailand, where Leonardo DiCaprio and his colleagues were going to live the life on the beach (2000). Nowadays, the solitary ocean in which they bathe does not exist, and hundreds of tourists crowd in the sand looking for an empty space to place the towel. Some of the main problems created by film tourism are obvious in this case: congested, exploited and overcome-by-circumstances destinations, overcrowding of a place and high pollution, abuse of the environment and even an increase of garbage.

But with good planning and care, a destination can receive a strong and qualitative push through a film, a necessary impulse to improve its economy and make those benefits revert to its citizens.

After all, what better publicity is there in the world than Audrey Hepburn declaring Humphrey Bogart (yes, him again) in Sabrina: “Paris is always a good idea”?

By Claudia Lorenzo


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