Pop-culture tourism

Pop-culture tourism is the act of traveling to locations featured in popular literature, film, music, or any other form of media. Also referred to as a “Location Vacation”.

Pop-culture tourism is in some respects akin to pilgrimage, with its modern equivalents of places of pilgrimage, such as Elvis Presley’s Graceland and the grave of Jim Morrison in Père Lachaise Cemetery.

The emergence, and the widespread diffusion, in the course of the XX and XXI centuries, of a wide shared subculture, has produced the social phenomenon of substantial tourist movements induced and conditioned by specific contents conveyed by mass media, and in particular, from the stimuli and suggestions coming from the massive use of television, film, home and music entertainment programs.

A special case is made up of the conditioning by as particular aspects of mass culture, such as the success of video products, film and television series or commercial: in the latter case, we speak of film tourism or tourism-induced film (” film- induced tourism »in the Anglo-Saxon literature, or, with only partially superimposable meaning,« movie-induced tourism »).

The tourist interest induced by the mass media also concerns places that have been the subject of an event, even criminal, mourning or scabrous, provided that it has benefited from a vast mass media resonance: it is the case of the macabre phenomenon of the so-called horror tourism, linked to heinous news stories, human disasters or natural cataclysms, which finds an example in the interest aroused by the Isola del Giglio after the sinking of the Costa Concordia.

There is also the case of the contrary tendency, that of tourism discouraged by the effect unfolded by particular films that reverberate, on the collective imagination of the masses of users, a negative image of some places or of an entire nation.

Cultural background
The whole of these phenomena is inscribed within something more general, a cultural scenario based on the ” strong and inseparable ” link that exists ” between tourism and communication “. This connection was made clear, already in the nineteenth century, by the effects of the publication of the Mémoires of a touriste of Stendhal and the appeal exercised by the literary narratives of the travel experiences of the Grand Tour.

The journey, in fact, is not reducible to a simple movement of a person between different places, but it is an event that sets in motion a real ” cognitive process applied to a territory “: this cognitive act does not fit to passive enjoyment, but requires a level of social interaction comparable to that necessary for the development of normal daily life, in which the peculiar cultural values of which the traveler can dispose necessarily come into play (in this specific case), user of mass culture).

Significant examples
There are numerous examples of tourist movements induced by the contents of mass culture. A well known case is the phenomenon triggered by the film Roman Holiday (Roman Holiday), direct the 1953 film by William Wyler, and tied, in the imagination, to the faces of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. The proposition of the image of Rome as ” ideal nest of love and sentimental adventure ” has had a great influence, starting from the fifties, in favoring the tourist flows from the United States to the capital and, more generally, towards the Italy. In 1994 a similar influence, much more effective than expensive marketing campaigns, had on tourism towards the Island of Salina, the success of the screening of the film The postman by Michael Radford, played by Massimo Troisi.

Some exemplary cases have even been the subject of more or less specific and in-depth studies. The citation of some of these cases makes it possible to show not only the essence and the scope of the social phenomenon, but also how it, at times, is able to bring into play wider cultural and sociological values.

The example in Basilicata of the city of Matera and its Sassi is significant: in this case, it is a tourist destination of considerable architectural and anthropological interest which, however, has long been neglected and ignored by tourism flows mass, national and international, and even flows on the narrower regional and local scale, which has instead suddenly become the object of a real boom only after its architectural emergencies have been shown to the First World ” from the production of a filmvery successful (The Passion of Christ by Mel Gibson), able to reach large sectors of users of mass culture.

In the case of Matera, the fruition and reading of the cultural, anthropological, landscape and historical values of the Sassi, is difficult, or even precluded, normally, to those who are culturally dependent on the commercial options of the entertainment industry: only the indication made from commercial choices (even if occasional and accidental, as in the case of Matera) on the location of a film productionsuccess has allowed the “validation” and “legitimization” of some places as a possible object of tourist interest of the masses: the successful product, in fact, is able to provide the necessary connections able to place and integrate those places, of difficult to appreciate, in the cultural baggage of the users of mass culture.

The case of the Sassi is exemplary of the ability of such media resonances to reach disparate cultures, not only in the Western world, but also far away, like the Japanese one: the cultural recognisability induced by the successful film, for example, has led to the possibility of using Sassi di Matera as the setting for an anime produced in the same year as the film. The effects were remarkable: in 2008, the Hilton Hotels Corporation hotel chain opened the Hilton Garden Hotel in Matera.

Another remarkable and exemplary case is the success of Krrish, an international blockbuster product of the Indian cinema of the so-called ” Bollywood “, released in 2006 and shot for 60% in Singapore. The international success of the film has brought clear benefits to Singapore tourism, not only by encouraging tourist flows from India, but also by stimulating domestic tourism.

In the case of domestic tourism, this is a larger phenomenon, which is more generally due to the entire complex of the growing film industry linked to Singapore. The growth of the tourist interest of Singapore linked to the film industry, sets in motion a wider cultural movement of the Asian continent, as it provides widely shared and shared sub-cultural references, to a very large audience of users of the mass culture, allowing to participate in the shared experiences of post- colonial modernity in Asia.

Horror tourism
The expression “horror tourism”, in the Italian journalistic lexicon, designates a cultural phenomenon in which the tourist interest for certain destinations, induced by the mass media, concerns places that have been the scene of criminal, criminal and heinous events., scabrous, or earthquakes, natural cataclysms and disasters determined by the action of man, when the knowledge of such events has benefited from a vast mass media exposure, able to hit the imaginary of the users of the mass media. The phenomenon of “horror tourism” takes on morbid, macabre, or ” necrophile ” values, often subject to stigmatizationby the same media that contribute to the triggering of the collective attention that underlies the phenomenon.

In Italy, for example, the ” pilgrimage ” is known on the places of famous tragic events, which have received the morbid attention of television programming, such as those of the crime of Cogne. Another example is provided by the crowds of visitors heading towards landscapes of the Isola del Giglio, with an interest stimulated by the media resonance of the shipwreck of the Costa Concordia ship, which took place on 13 January 2012.

Economic aspects
The phenomenon of tourism linked to mass culture assumes significant economic dimensions, with significant effects (and positive, if we think in terms of increase in turnover) on the local economy. There are, therefore, examples of public interventions (direct, or coming from public bodies) aimed at financially encouraging the creation, in certain places, of films, documentaries, or commercials. The result was a real sector of tourism marketing, with the creation of special local cinema commissions born with the specific aim of exploiting the economic opportunities offered by the impact of the media and on the ability to direct the interest of travelers and tourist flows.

Product placement strategies
This is the affirmation of an economic strategy, more or less conscious, which intends to move in the field of indirect or hidden advertising, on a terrain that can be defined as product placement.

In Austria, for example, the Tirol Film Commission provides economic contributions and grants to those who choose to produce films shot or set in Austrian Tyrol. The intervention of such bodies and bodies is common and widespread in many other countries, with a particularly intense activism in France, but also in Italy, as occurs, for example, in various locations in Piedmont. Peculiar is the case of Barcelona, where local interventions have opted for “specialization” oriented towards the advertising market, with incentives and proposals for locationsof advertising spots A case study of this ad hoc financing strategy is offered by products such as Palermo Shooting by Wim Wenders (2008) or Vicky Cristina Barcelona by Woody Allen (2008).

The interventions, of course, are not always neutral: it is natural, in fact, that contributions and facilitations benefit those film productions, television, or advertising, that know to transmit a captivating or fascinating image, able to encourage tourist flows, awakening the interest in places as possible tourist destinations, or revitalizing a dormant or diminished interest. The risk, in fact, is that some films incur the opposite effect: an example of this type is provided by Midnight Escape (Midnight Express) by Alan Parker, released in 1978, which for many years has penalized tourism to Turkeyas a result of the perception of violence conveyed by the film and associated, in the mass collective imagination of its spectators, to the whole of Turkey, with negative effects on the tourism economy of the country.


Popular destinations have included:

Metropolis, Illinois, declared by DC Comics to be the home of Superman.

Los Angeles, California area film studios
New York City, New York urban area featured in hundreds of Hollywood and American films.
Salzburg, Austria, where many scenes from The Sound of Music (1965) were filmed.
Tunisia, location of the filming of the Star Wars films, began in 1977.
The Field of Dreams, a baseball field featured in the 1989 film of the same name.
Petra, Jordan, where visits went from the thousands to the millions after the climactic scene of the 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed in Al Khazneh.
Wallace Monument, Stirling, dedicated to Scottish hero William Wallace. Saw a visitor rise of 160,000 after the 1995 film Braveheart
Burkittsville, Maryland, where tourists re-create the most gruesome scenes from the 1999 film The Blair Witch Project.
New Zealand, after The Lord of the Rings (2001–2003) was filmed there. See also Tolkien tourism.
Alnwick Castle, location of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter film series (2001–2011).
Santa Ynez Valley in Central California where much of the 2004 film Sideways took place.
Rosslyn Chapel, Scotland and Lincoln Cathedral, England. Locations used in The Da Vinci Code (film) film (2006).
Brevard and Transylvania County, North Carolina. Filming location of The Hunger Games (2012).
Norway, where tourism increased after the 2013 Pixar film Frozen was released

Loch Ness in the Scottish highlands, home of the mythical Loch Ness Monster.
Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, England, associated with Robin Hood.
Tintagel Castle in South-West England, association with King Arthur.

Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, England, setting for Winnie-the-Pooh in the 1920s. The game Poohsticks is a popular attraction.
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, birthplace of William Shakespeare (1564–1616), receives about 4.9 million visitors a year from all over the world.
Prince Edward Island, in which the 1908 Canadian novel Anne of Green Gables takes place, is a popular attraction for tourists, notably from Japan where the first translated edition was published in 1952.
Forks, Washington, primary setting of the Twilight series of novels and films.

Abbey Road, London, known by the 1969 album Abbey Road by The Beatles whose cover features the Beatles walking across the zebra crossing of the road.
Liverpool, England, for fans of The Beatles. A museum dedicated to them ‘The Beatles Story’ is situated at the Albert Dock. The reconstructed ‘Cavern’, the club they played in before becoming famous is also a stop for Beatles pilgrims. A bus tour of the city entitled The Magical Mystery Tour, visits many sites associated with the group including former homes of The Beatles.
Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee, a mansion which was owned by Elvis Presley. It serves as his biographical museum since 1982.

Television dramas
Istanbul for fans of Turkish television drama.
Pin Oak Court, Vermont South, Victoria, a suburban Melbourne shooting location for soap opera Neighbours from 1985.
Tom’s Restaurant which is known to many as Monk’s from Seinfeld (1989–1998).
North Bend, Washington and Twede’s Cafe, the shooting location of the Double R Diner, where much of the 1990 television series Twin Peaks was filmed.
Roslyn, Washington, which stood in for Cicely, Alaska in the television series Northern Exposure (1990–1995).
Chuncheon, South Korea, where the 2002 KBS2 television drama series Winter Sonata took place.
Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Scotland, Location of the popular children’s programme Balamory (2002–2005).
Albuquerque, New Mexico. The location of the AMC television series Breaking Bad (2008–2013).
Highclere Castle, location of the 2010s drama series Downton Abbey.

Japanese anime and manga
Enoshima (Shōnan) and Kamakura district, originally a local tourist spot near Tokyo. Many Japanse anime and manga series, such as Ping Pong (1996), Squid Girl (2007–2016), Tsuritama (2012), Tari Tari (2012), and one-off episodes in other series, took place there. Due to appearance in the opening theme of the 1990s anime series Slam Dunk, an ordinary level crossing of the Enoshima Electric Railway, near Kamakurakōkōmae Station, became popular attraction for tourists, notably from China and Taiwan.

Intentional pop-culture tourism attractions
Vulcan, Alberta, Canada. In the early 1990s this small rural community began to explore ways it could capitalize on the coincidence of the Town’s name being the same as popular Star Trek Character, Mr. Spock’s home planet: Vulcan, to develop its local tourism industry.

Source from Wikipedia