I mean, is film tourism even that big?

Oh my friends, strap in, we are going for a ride!

How Big is the Film Tourism Market?

While global film market ($234.9B in production spending) is expected to hit $411B/year by 2030, Global film tourism is estimated to reach $128.78B/year by 2032 – indicating that the economic impact of film tourism in that same region could be as large as a 3rd of the production dollars spend per year for upwards of 5-10 years after production.

What’s the Economic Impact on Visitation & Spending from Film Tourism?

One area that leveraged film tourism was Northern Ireland who found one in every 6 out-of-state visitors came because of HBO’s Game of Thrones, by the end of the series they saw $50M injected into the economy thanks to film tourism alone in a single year, with a total $251M injected into the economy from 2014-2021 at the time of reporting. Key to this was a filming locations app and collection of online visitor guides showcasing locations.

Just for reference season 1 of The Last of Us saw a cumulative audience of 30.4M as the biggest for any HBO series since the final season of Game of Thrones (whose 7th season came in a 32.5M) providing a powerful indicator on the film tourism regions like Alberta, Canada can expect to see, for example.

The impact of films and TV on tourism has been noted by one study as increase visitation by an average of 31% (and by up to 300% in some regions). For example Harry Potter film locations experienced a 50% growth, Braveheart increased tourism to Wallace Monument in Scotland by 300%, and Mission Impossible 2 increased tourism to Sydney National Park by 200%. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom alone has given Hawaii’s economy a $31M boost and more than $6.9M in wages to 1,200+ Hawaii workers. 

A further survey shows not only have 96% of American’s visited a place due to film/tv but 73% were planning trips driven by film/tv locations in 2023, with 35% driven by a desire to emotionally immerse themselves in the story or city, and 34% to visit a restaurant featured in a film or show.

Netflix noted from studies of their viewers that people who watch their shows were 2.5 times more like to want to go visit that place and are actively undertaking film tourism initiatives to ‘get their fans closers to the shows they love’ like the launch of Netflix In Your Neighbourhood.

Tax Incentives & Film Tourism

The Netflix initiative seems to be driven in part by the Dec 2022 New Mexico Film Office’s report showcasing that for every $1 they invested via tax incentives they got back $7.83 – if 1/3 of film tourism follows a similar pattern then for every $1 spent on film tourism they should receive an economic impact of $2.35. Opportunity exists around giving an additional 1-3% tax incentive or discount off permit costs to productions if they engage local marketing or production studios to build behind the scenes film tour initiatives in the region as part of marketing strategies, in the same way regional filming is incentivized in New Mexico.

The same report for NM film office showed that even though Breaking Bad aired its last season in 2013, Breaking Bad tours have consistently sold out, booked up for months even until today in 2023 (10 years after completion of filming), with 44% of out of state consumers reporting Breaking Bad was their main reason for visiting & found the average spend per person was $1,405 – which included $785 on accommodation, $275 hospitality, $237 on transport $107.50 on souvenirs.

Building a Film Tourism Pipeline

So in a nutshell, yes film tourism is getting that big, and can result in an economic development long tail for regions who double down on film tourism as a part of their film production strategy and spending.

Story City works with Film & TV commissions and film tourism influencers to create (and/or sell) digital behind-the-scenes film tours that capitalise on this growing trend while building local economies. Contact us about how we can help you build your film tourism industry either with you or with your chosen influencer.