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The true value of screen tourism for the UK

Filming in the UK has reached record levels. 2014 saw a massive increase in film production in the UK, a 35% increase on 2013 and the highest recorded figure ever. As a result, screen tourism is a growing phenomenon, with more and more locations across the country benefiting from a booming screen industry.

Attractive tax incentives combined with England’s magnificent countryside, coast, towns and cities, historic buildings and urban architecture, make this country a firm choice for producers and directors from across the globe.

Now, new figures from Creative England and research specialist Olsberg-SPI prove that this is also great news for the visitor economy in England outside of London.

Viewers are no longer just content to watch a television programme or film on screen; increasingly, they want to see and explore the places they were filmed at first hand to fully immerse themselves in the world of the drama or film. New research, produced in association with VisitEngland, looks at the impact of screen tourism across England outside of London – and it shows that our filming locations are attracting overseas visitors in abundance.

International screen tourists ,or ‘set-jetters’, brought between £100 million-£140 million to England’s economy (outside London) in 2014, with the most popular locations generating up to £1.6 million every year in international visitor spend.

Combined with the value of domestic screen tourists, several sites generated significant levels of screen tourism spend. For example, Alnwick Castle (famously the home of Hogwarts for the first two Harry Potter films) generated £4.3 million in screen tourism spend in 2014.

Creative England is an organisation that helps to promote filming in England. By sharing the result of this new research, they hope it will encourage tourism-related organisations to make the most of the growing phenomenon.

Kaye Elliott, Head of Production Services at Creative England said: “The positive impact of screen tourism to the economy is clear to see, but there is still much more we can do. At Creative England we work hard to both encourage production teams to film in the English regions, and also work with locations, local businesses, local authorities and tourist agencies to help them maximise the benefits of this growing trend, something that has the potential to add even more money into the UK economy. This country is full of magnificent locations and with spring finally upon us, now is a great time to get out there and visit those places made famous by our best loved films and dramas.”

James Berresford, CEO at VisitEngland said: “It is fantastic that so many tourist destinations are benefiting from domestic and international visitors who increasingly want to experience stunning English locations from the world of television and film as part of a popular new trend known as set-jetting.

In recent years a popular location for ‘set-jetters’, for example, has been Highclere Castle which has been used in Downton Abbey for a number of years. As the film industry continues to thrive in England we would encourage regional businesses and organisations to tell people more about places which feature on screen and why they’re worth a visit so that the tourism industry can continue to use the phenomena to generate jobs and economic growth.”

The research surveyed visitors at eight locations across the country: Alnwick Castle (famously home to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts), the village of Bampton (Downton Abbey), West Bay (Broadchurch), Castle Howard (Brideshead Revisited, Death Comes to Pemberley), Holkham (Shakespeare in Love, The Duchess), Lyme Park (Pride and Prejudice, The Awakening) Puzzlewood (Merlin, Doctor Who) and Wollaton Hall (The Dark Knight Rises).

Alnwick Castle generated substantial results in the survey, with day-visit spends from core domestic and international screen tourists estimated to be worth £4.3 million in 2014. Other sites attracting significant levels of screen tourism included Bampton, with £2.7 million estimated, and West Bay (Broadchurch).

Like all the sites surveyed, these destinations featured iconic locations that were depicted clearly on screen and were central to plot. All three were also featured in film franchises or television series – suggesting that extended on-screen exposure creates the biggest screen tourism impact.

The report also proves that screen tourism is relevant for all types of content, from period drama to dark, contemporary stories, family fare to fantasy and sci-fi.

And dark stories are not necessarily a barrier to this trend. Broadchurch may have hinged on the murder of a child but 30.8% of international respondents were core screen tourists, along with 6.9% of domestic respondents. This suggests that compelling, high-quality screen experiences can induce tourism regardless of the plot or tone.

It also proves that screen exposure can help drive tourists to the English regions. Currently, London claims a higher share of all international tourist spend than the Rest of England – with a 53% share of international tourism spend, against England’s 35% (2013 study by Deloitte/Oxford Economics).

With more and more film and high-end TV dramas choosing to film outside of London (Far from the Madding Crowd, Dad’s Army, Wolf Hall and Poldark, are all recent examples) screen tourism can only help increase this figure.

Photo caption: Alnwick Castle (famously the home of Hogwarts for the first two Harry Potter films) generated £4.3 million in screen tourism spend in 2014.

- See more at: http://www.traveldailynews.com/news/article/65121/the-true-value-of-screen#.dpuf


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