Skift Take

By incorporating popular media, VisitBritain seems to know what sells in tourism now.

VisitBritain is developing a campaign that will promote locations used in movies and TV shows, said the group’s CEO Patricia Yates at the recent Skift Global Forum.

“We’re looking at our next campaign, and – obviously secretly in this room – I’ll say that film and TV, we’re looking at that being a major driver,” said Yates. “We’ve used Harry Potter, the James Bond experience, so we’ve got good links with studios in the past, but really ramping that up and telling the story of Britain through film and TV. We still have such a rich bed of stories to come.”

The marketing campaign is being hashed out, but is planned to launch in the U.S. in 2024. 

The American market has been driving the UK’s post-pandemic recovery. Last year, 4.6 million Americans visited the UK, up 2% from 2019. Americans also spent a record $7.45 billion, up 42% from 2019.

One of the destinations to be highlighted is Bristol, where the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory prequel Wonka was filmed, said Yates.

“Wonka is coming out this year with Willy Wonka, the prequel of it that was filmed around Bristol,” said Yates. “We’ve got great destinations that people can come and be part of a film set.”

The strategy is to spread tourism beyond hotspots like London and throughout the shoulder season.

“That’s really where we’re trying to shift our tourism industry,” said Yates. “We get people out of London, they get those real authentic stories, meet locals, try local food.” 

Tour operators often find traveler interest in destinations used in films. “We often find demand stack statistics peak even where the Bachelor is being hosted or where White Lotus is being filmed next,” said Intrepid Travel CEO James Thornton at Skift Global Forum.

Almost a third of potential tourists say they are interested in visiting locations seen on screen, according to VisitBritain. After the Netflix series Bridgerton premiered, Castle Howard’s website saw a 3,000% spike in Gen Zers looking at its website, said Yates.

“I think film and TV globally is such a huge draw, particularly for Gen Z, and it can transform places that have never been heard of,” she said.


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Tags: intrepid travel, movies, netflix, sgf2023, tourism, tv, uk

Photo credit: VisitBritain CEO Patricia Yates, Intrepid Travel CEO James Thorton and Skift Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam Skift / Skift

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