Have you ever watched a movie and thought, "I want to go there now?" We all have. Hollywood heavily influences tourism for this very reason alone. Movies can literally drive people to visit places that they have never dreamt of going to before because of how romanticized those destinations appear on the silver screen. Not only that but filming a movie in a certain location boosts the local economies. A typical movie on location spends more than $50,000 a day on hotels, restaurants, gas stations, dry cleaners, hardware stores and area labor, according to Western City.
Whenever film production sets up camp, jobs are created, money flows into local businesses, and tax revenues are generated. For these reasons, other states and foreign countries aggressively compete with California for film production. Though some scenes are still shot in a Hollywood studio, the fantasy of that magical faraway land entices people to pack their bags and book the next flight. Sometimes, there are even tours that create itineraries based off of specific scenes shot in movies (like the DaVinci Tour in various European cities or the Harry Potter Tour in London).
Here is a list of 25 travel destinations that a Hollywood movie made iconic which then caused a huge surge in tourism to that place.
25 Skellig Michael, Ireland: 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'
The latest installments of the Disney Star Wars series, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi were filmed on the Skellig Island's of Ireland's coast. Skellig Michael, an island seven miles off the coast of County Kerry in the south-west of Ireland, served as a filming location for Jedi Master Luke Skywalker's hideaway planet, according to New York Daily News.
Though the island is more than enough to take your breath away, rough seas are one of the challenges that visitors face when they make their journey to Skellig Michael.
Boat tours run on the island from late March to early October each year. Since Star Wars showcased the island, tourists need to book well in advance since the demand is so high.
24 New Zealand: 'The Lord of the Rings Trilogy'
The Lord of the Rings trilogy epically put New Zealand on the map as one of the most sought-after tourist destinations. There were so many countless locations all within New Zealand that Middle Earth was filmed in. Over 150 real New Zealand locations were used from the rolling green hills of Matamata in the North Island; Hobbiton, to Queenstown’s snowy jagged mountain peaks; the Remarkables, featured as Dimrill Dale, according to newzealand.com.
New Zealand makes you feel as if you are in some fantasy world with its lush pastures, clear blue waters, and various landscapes. There are even Lord of the Rings tours designed just for fans that want to visit the film locations of their favorite scenes.
23 Alnwick Castle, UK: 'Harry Potter' Films (AKA Hogwarts)
Everyone who grew up a fan of the Harry Potter series all fantasizes about going to Hogwarts. Alnwick Castle was the location that was chosen to be Hogwarts in the series. In the autumn, it was prime time to shoot the key scenes back in 2000 when Harry and his fellow students learned to fly broomsticks with Madam Hooch. This was where Harry also learned the rules of the wizarding sport, Quidditch in the Outer Bailey.
Aside from Alnwick Castle being the real-life Hogwarts, it dates all the way back to Medieval times in 1309.
The Alnwick Castle website states that it is the second most-inhabited castle in the UK, serving as a military outpost, a teaching college, and a refuge for evacuees.
22 Forks, Washington: 'Twilight'
Forks, Washington is the little town where Stephenie Meyer based her Twilight saga novels. The town takes great pride in that and there are signs everywhere with references to Twilight making it a great tourist attraction for vampire tweens.
Just outside Forks, you'll find Olympic National Park in Port Angeles. This is where all the magic happened in the stories where vampires and werewolves roamed around amongst humans. The forests in Olympic National Park have a mystic quality to them that will make you want to look over your shoulders and guard your neck.
21 Petra, Jordan: 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'
Petra, the setting for the finale of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, is Jordan's biggest tourist attraction, according to CNN Travel. Sadly, visitor figures have gone drastically down since there have been turbulent times in the Middle East. It is one of the region's most enigmatic cities that is famous for its rose-hued ancient sandstone architecture.
Petra was the trading capital in 7th century BC founded by an Arab tribe known as the Nabataeans who abandoned it a thousand years later.
Mysteriously enough, the city was abandoned and rediscovered 1,000 years later with all the architecture still intact.
It was only rediscovered by Europeans in 1812 when a Swiss explorer was led down the valley by local Bedouin (CNN Travel).
20 Soca River Valley, Slovenia: 'The Chronicles of Narnia'
The waterfalls, forests, and mountains of western Slovenia were all captured in The Chronicles of Narnia. In the forested hillsides of western Slovenia, there is an endless valley that stretches below the Julian Alps. Right in the center, the Soca river swirls through that valley with such icy blue water that its enough to give you goosebumps.
The Soca valley is just about two hours northwest of Slovenia’s capital of Ljubljana. Though no one usually thinks to go to Slovenia as a tourist destination, this type of nature is one of the prettiest places on earth.
19 Namib Desert, Namibia: 'Mad Max: Fury Road'
In Johannesburg, South Africa, the Namib Desert is the grand backdrop that looks perfect for a post-apocalyptic story. Mad Max: Fury Road was nominated for ten Oscars and wound up winning six of them. The rugged exterior of the desert gave the perfect scenery for the wasteland that was portrayed in the movie starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.
The Namib Desert is one of the oldest and largest deserts stretching from the Atlantic Ocean, covering large swathes of Namibia and parts of Angola and South Africa.
Surprisingly, this dry hotspot is home to a diverse number of plants and animals which are so rare and are found nowhere else in the world.
18 Napali Coast, Hawaii: 'Jurassic Park'
The setting of Jurassic Park seems like such a far-off land where dinosaurs are brought back to life. That seems like a utopia that simply cannot exist on modern-day planet earth. Kauai is for many the most beautiful islands of the Hawaiian archipelago of the Napali coast, where both the 1993 and 2015 versions of Jurassic Park were filmed.
The best way to get the full experience of the Napali coast islands is to take a helicopter ride and look down from the sky. The producers of the Jurassic Park films studied this area thoroughly to get an idea of how to shoot each of the scenes. There are cliffs that rise up to 4,000 feet and no roads that were built to reach these parts of the islands (Atlas of Wonders).
17 St. Vincent And The Grenadines: 'Pirates of the Caribbean'
The first movie of the Pirates of the Carribean, The Curse of the Black Pearl starring Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley was shot in the beautiful country-archipelago Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
In order to navigate through these little islands, you will have to take a ferry to the get the full experience.
Petit Tabac is one of the awe-inspiring Tobago Cays, which is one of the islands on the archipelago. It is located outside Horseshoe Reef and is a picture-perfect desert island with powder white sand, coconut palms and nothing more, according to Discover St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This is an ideal place for yachts and scuba divers.
16 Pondicherry, India: 'The Life of Pi'
Though The Life of Pi is most famous for its CGI tiger scene in the second act, the entire first act of Ang Lee's film was shot in the coastal town of Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry), where the blend of French colonial and Indian cultures is unique in south India and a true one-off for travellers (The Guardian).
What makes this part of India so unique is its French Quarter, which was the base of the French East India Company from 1675. Pondicherry was switched between the hands of the British and the French throughout history so this city has some western influence.
According to the Guardian, outside the Travaux Publics government building, a notable backdrop to one of Pi’s childhood memories, a sign reads ‘Beauty is our city. Preserving it is our duty’ in both English and French.
15 Savannah, Georgia: 'Forrest Gump'
Forrest Gump is a heart-warming American classic and put Savannah on the map as an old Southern city in Georgia that is a staple for Southern hospitality. This city is the definition of Southern charm with its Historic District, live oak-lined squares and its magnolia blossoms.
The homes have not lost their stunning historic design and the architecture makes you feel like you have stepped back in time.
If you stroll by Chippewa Square, you can see the same spot where Forest Gump sat waiting for the bus stop. Around the park, you will find many restaurants with that family style dining experience.
14 Doune Castle, Scotland: 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'
The Doune Castle in Scotland was featured in the dry British comedy with a cult following, Monty Python, and the Holy Grail. Not only that, but it was used as the location to film Winterfell in the first pilot of Game of Thrones. This 14th-century castle has a gigantic courtyard built in the middle with a striking 100 ft high gatehouse and one of the best preserved great halls in Scotland, according to Visit Scotland.
There were many grand medieval banquets for kings and queens in this castle and was home to Scotland's "uncrowned king." Though Scotland is known for its dreary weather, this cobbled stone castle brings the history to life.
13 Ouarzazate, Morocco: 'Gladiator'
The Morrocan town of Ouarzazate has been a key backdrop to the Oscar-winning film Gladiator starring Russell Crowe and scenes in Game of Thrones where Daenerys Targaryen is a princess living in exile.
This particular town in Morocco is one of the most popular film-making destinations in the region.
In fact, the Moroccan government is welcoming to filmmakers because of all the benefits that are provided for the economy. Big foreign productions seeking a Middle Eastern backdrop (and possibly an academy award) have long chosen Morocco for its relatively cheap price tag and safety, according to CNN. In the town of Ouarzazate, many of the 100,000 citizens rely on the cinema industry from employment.
12 Angkor Wat, Cambodia: 'Lara Croft: Tomb Raider'
The Tomb Raider movies starring Angelina Jolie are what put Cambodia on the map as an alternative tourist destination (especially for those on budgets since it's so cheap). In fact, Angelina Jolie was so awe-struck by the culture, that she adopted her first son Maddox from a Cambodian orphanage.
When Lara Croft burst onto our screens in 2001, viewers fell in love with the mysterious vine-clad temple used as a location in the film. The film made Ta Prohm – the temple in question - famous, and it’s now one of the most popular temples for visitors to UNESCO world heritage site Angkor Wat (Insider Journeys).
11 Dharavi, India: 'Slumdog Millionaire'
The Dharavi slum, a Mumbai shanty town was made famous by the award-winning hit Slumdog Millionaire but it is not a tourist destination that is desirable to visit. Sadly, this poverty-stricken area is considered one of the largest slums in Asia, with close to a million people living in one square mile.
The residents of this area work 12-hour days to make ends meet on nearly one US dollar a day.
The living conditions are what most people living in the first world could not even begin to fathom.
10 Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada: 'Brokeback Mountain'
Although the Annie Proulx short story is set in Wyoming, Brokeback Mountain, a big winner at the 2005 Academy Awards, was filmed in the south of Alberta, one of Canada's prairie provinces, according to Trip Savvy. Kananaskis Country is home to a swath of the Rocky Mountains and the area gained notoriety for being just as entrancing and beautiful as the storyline in the movie.
Alberta, Canada shares a border with Montana, USA and most of the Canadian filming locations of the move took place where the Rocky Mountains loom and the lakes are a crystal clear turquoise.
9 Gion District In Kyoto, Japan: 'Memoirs of a Geisha'
Kyoto, Japan is considered the birthplace of the Geisha culture. What most people don't know is that Geishas still exist in real life. The city's historic Gion district is probably the most popular place for seeing geisha, according to CNN Travel. However, when Geishas are at work, they are not there to cater to tourists who are snapping pictures of them.
This means that it is better to stay out of their way.
All women who are geishas even attend a special school throughout their careers training in traditional Japanese arts, such as the tea ceremony, flower arrangement, and learning to play various musical instruments. This is a staple in Japanese culture that is worth putting on your bucket list.
8 Ko Phi Phi, Thailand: 'The Beach'
Thailand’s Maya Bay on the island of Ko Phi Phi was put on the map after The Beach came out starring Leonardo DiCaprio. However, there were some major consequences to the surge in tourists to the area. This summer, the Maya Bay on Ko Phi Phi island is officially closed off to tourists as authorities attempt to reverse decades of damage done to the region’s marine environment, according to The Guardian.
During the island's low season between June - September, the closure will take place in order for the coral reef to recover. Ironically, the movie is about a backpacker who finds an untouched beach. Now, the area gets up to 5,000 visitors a day since the movie's release.
7 The Louvre, Paris: 'The Da Vinci Code'
If you loved Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code and the movie starring Tom Hanks, then you will jump at any opportunity to see the sites that were filmed in the movie.
Not only is the Louvre in Paris breathtaking on an aesthetic level, but there is a lot of mystery and history behind it.
Your visit to the Louvre is an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the investigators and discover the secrets of the Priory of Sion (Paris City Vision). The entire museum has different works and locations (including the Mona Lisa) that you need to explore according to what the book talks about.
6 Florence, Italy: 'Inferno'
Michelangelo once said: "If you know where to look, Florence is paradise" and that statement is proved true in the sequel The Inferno by Dan Brown. This book was also turned into a movie starring Tom Hanks after The DaVinci Code.
If you follow the same path as professor Robert Langdon in Florence, you will delve into the mysteries and medieval past during the times of Dante and of the Renaissance. If you read the books, you will find it easy to follow all the sites and maybe even uncover some secrets that most tourists don't know about.
5 Monuriki Island, Fiji: 'Castaway'
The survival drama flick, Castaway from 2000 showcases a FedEx employee (Tom Hanks) stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash.
Though this character went to Fiji unintentionally, the movie has made this island a popular tourist destination.
The movie was filmed on the beautiful island of Monuriki. Ironically, there is another Fiji island called Castaway Island just northwest of Monuriki. This tiny island is just over a mile and a half long and the total land area is just a quarter of a mile. The island is not inhabited and you can visit it by ferry while staying at one of the many resorts in Fiji.
4 Oregon: 'Wild'
The Northwest states in the USA are home to some of the most breathtaking mountainous views that are a hiker's paradise. The film, Wild starring Reese Witherspoon. Much time was spent shooting in Ashland and Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake National Park has some sick views with a huge crater that looks extraterrestrial. When you look at it, you don't even feel like you are on planet Earth anymore.
To follow the trail that was portrayed in the movie, hikers follow a trail leading up to the Tom Dick and Harry Mountain. You can drive right into the caldera, fish for trout in the crater’s two lakes, East Lake and Paulina Lake, and ride a mountain bike for about 19 miles around the rim (The New York Times).
3 Bruges, Belgium: 'In Bruges'
The portrayal of Bruges in the 2008 dark comedy In Bruges was of a fairy tale city so dull it nearly drove Colin Farrell’s character mad, according to The New York Times.
Since then, the quaint fairy-tale European city has seen a surge in curious tourists who want to explore this underrated place.
The charming capital of West Flanders in northwestern Belgium is indeed tranquil, with swans gliding along medieval canals and cobblestone lanes dotted with lace shops and quiet cafes (The New York Times). There are restaurants run by top chefs, creative chocolate shops, local pubs with a plethora of Belgian beers to offer.
2 Salzburg, Austria: 'The Sound of Music'
The 1965 film, The Sound of Music was the highest-grossing musical of all time starring Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp, a real-life ex-nun who married an Austrian naval officer after she became governess to his children.
Two dozen places featured in the film were in Salzburg, Austria and the wholesome city matched the family values in the movie. Some of the top picks that The Sound of Music tours takes tourists to are the Mirabell Gardens, the Leopoldskron Palace, Nonnberg Abbey, Frohnburg Castle and the lakes of Salzkammergut.
1 The Stanley Hotel, Colorado: 'The Shining'
The Stanley Hotel is where Stephen King got his inspiration to write one of his most famous novels, The Shining. It is located on Colorado's most iconic mountain scenery and it is even open for guests to stay in at their own risk. The hotel is known to be haunted by many different ghosts roaming about.
Many guests at The Stanley report feeling the spiritual energy of past guests and employees, including hotel founders F.O. and Flora Stanley, according to colorado.com.
There are tours offered at The Stanley Hotel during the day and during the night for those who are braver.
References: Travel Pulse, Trek Effect, We Swap, The Richest, Gild Society, Travel Purse, Deccan Chronicle, Western City, New York Daily News, newzealand.com, Alnwick Castle, Zimbio, CNN Travel, Independent UK, panda.org, Atlas of Wonders, discoversvg.com, The Guardian, Visit Scotland, CNN Business, Insider Journeys, Trip Savvy, CNN Travel, The Guardian, Paris City Vision, Visit Florence, Fiji Vacations, The New York Times, The New York Times, CNN Travel, colorado.com
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