Film and TV Tourism

My project focuses on film and television-inspired tourism. Film has long been a recognized driver of tourism – even as early as 1936, films were putting places like Tahiti (used in Mutiny on the Bounty) on the tourist map. As film, and later on, television, became increasingly part of the cultural imagination, it also became more of an influence on tourist destinations. From New York to Thailand to New Zealand to Denmark, feature films and popular television shows shape how we think about the world and, in many cases, inspire us to actually go to places.

This project studies the experiences and practices around this kind of tourism. It focuses on the experience of the tourists – what they do, how they feel about it, and what they do when they come home. It investigates the cycle of mediatization, de-mediatization, and re-mediatization that makes up the media tourist experience: how a place becomes part of media, how it is then brought out of the media through the visit, and then made part of the media again through the tourist’s activities after the visit, like posting pictures online, and communication with fellow fans. Mostly, I’m interested in researching the full media tourist experience, from thinking about the trip to going to the site, from the way a place is presented in the story and the media to what other “fannish” things a tourist might do beyond tourism.

Within this project, I look at some other questions as well. Within the idea of how a place is mediatized, and how fans think about this mediatization, this project looks at how ideas of Europe, such as European history or culture, are reproduced and experienced through media texts and the tourism around them. It also looks at how these experiences and relationships might differ between different kinds of media and media texts, from contemporary television to classic film, affects the way that this tourism is experienced and practiced. Additionally, the role of new(er) technologies, such as digital maps, social media, and “transmedia” promotional practices, in media tourism will be studied here.

My first case study focuses on Game of Thrones, a popular premium-cable American television show shot on location in Northern Ireland, Croatia, Iceland, and Morocco. It’s a “medieval high fantasy” show based on a series of books. Now finished with its third season, it has become a massive success not only domestically, but internationally as well, and is even said to be the world’s most illegally downloaded television show. I am looking at Game of Thrones fan tourists and their relationship and experience with the “place” of the show. If you’d like to participate, drop me a line!

Abby Waysdorf