Film tourism and destination marketing : a case study of Santorini, Greece

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Ραυτοπούλου, Μαρία
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Like books and paintings, which are the channels that have inspired us to fantasize on travelling to new and exotic places, films are the modern motivators of today that can through moving image make us value to visit certain places (Beeton 2005, 4). For some it can be a form of escapism or pilgrimage and for many these places are the connection between real and imaginary. By depicting a particular place in a film, we can claim it will certainly stimulate in our interest towards traditional touristic campaigns (Hudson & Ritchie 2006, 387). It is common knowledge that movie and television products have an effect on tourism, that is, that in some way people are induced to increase or otherwise change their consumption of tourism products. Television and films are the most popular and influential vehicles for attracting people‘s attention among diverse visual media alternatives (Kim et al., 2007). So, it is perfectly understandable that the impact of films has been widely known to people‘s image formation for a place (Butler, 1990; Riley and van Doren, 1992; Gartner, 1993; Schofield, 1996; Iwashita, 2003; Kim and Richardson, 2003). Films are not generally produced with the intent to attract tourists to a destination, but tend to influence viewers indirectly through the movie‘s message (Butler, 1990). This is because they can present millions of viewers with substantial information about a destination, create a first-time image or alter an existing image in a relatively short period of time (Hahm et al., 2008). Many authors, such as Beeton (2000, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008), Busby and Klug (2001), Connell and Meyer (2009), Crouch (2007), Croy and Buchmann (2009), Daye (2007), Hudson and Ritchie (2006a, 2006b), Hyunjung and Chon (2008), Iwashita (2007) Kim and Richardson (2001, 2003), Liou (2010) and Macionis (2004) have discussed the influence of films and the ways viewers gain images, information and consciousness of destinations, which in turn, affect their decision-making process, and they have also examined the behavior of the film induced tourist. Films and television programmes, especially with the emanation of satellite television channels, boost an increase in visitor numbers to the portrayed locations. This phenomenon has been recorded worldwide (Busby and Klug, 2001). Furthermore, watching television is still the most common home-based leisure activity and the amount of time spent to watch television is expanding (Busby and Klug, 2001); therefore, film-induced tourism is expected to attract more attention. For these reasons, in addition to the speedy growth of the film industry, destination marketers can be seen to be influenced to place their destinations in films and television shows as it is an effective promotional tool (Jewell and McKinnon, 2008; Nicholson, 2006; O‘Connor, 2010; Yilmaz and Yolal, 2008). Film-induced tourism has been heightened also by the increasing reach of satellite and cable television subscription, the use of DVDs, the increasing number of cinemagoers and the continuous development of digital technology (Belch and Belch, 2004; Kim et al., 2007; Shani et al., 2009). Moreover, the shelf life of films is longer than the first viewing and could have a longer effect on than other promotional tools (Warnick et al., 2005). The literature indicated also that 3D-visual effects of film create inherent images of a destination by introducing a vivid experience, which seems less biased or is less recognizable as promotional (O‘Connor et al., 2010; Schofield, 1996). A typical movie with international distribution can now reach over one hundred million consumers as it moves from box office, to video/DVD to TV. As a consequence, for a destination, the publicity generated by a major motion picture and by the high-profile actors can be tremendous (Beeton, 2005). Researchers have already asserted that films are more likely to reach wider audiences with less investment than specifically targeted tourism advertisements and promotion (Dore and Crouch, 2003). As a result, film-induced tourism or film tourism as it is referred to in this paper, can be an effective marketing tool for destinations that lack financial backing for strong advertising campaigns, especially at a time of economic downturn. But despite the growing awareness of the relationship between film and tourism, as well as the anecdotal application of film tourism in destination marketing, the impacts of film tourism still appear to be under-appreciated. Though the effects of film tourism can be long lasting and have significant long-term economic and social effects, many tourism organizations have been slow to tap the potential benefits of film tourism, perhaps due to a lack of knowledge, research or evidence that explains the potential of film tourism (Hudson and Ritchie, 2006). In this article a conceptual framework for understanding the film tourism phenomenon is presented and then, using the case study method, reports show the tourism impact of the film "Che ne sara di noi" on the island of Santorini in Greece.
Film tourism, Santorini