Films having huge impact on holiday decisionsWhile price is one of the key deciding factors when booking a holiday, the Christmas films, on television and at the cinema, also have a huge impact on people's decisions. With the second part of Lord of the Rings breaking box office records, interest in holidays to New Zealand, for example, has never been so high and Mexico, Berlin and Australia will be among the fastest growing destinations for British travellers in 2003, according to a survey of high street travel agents. The forest part of Lord of the Rings fuelled a 12 per cent increase in tourism numbers and next year a further 20 per cent rise is expected, such is the effect films have. Over Christmas, for example, viewers watching British television either in the UK or on digital, would have been spirited away to Istanbul in Murder on the Orient Express, Paris by the hit comedy Amelie, Northern India by the Man Who Would Be King, Russia by Doctor Zhivago, Egypt by The Mummy and China by Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Today, Dances With Wolves will take us to the Dakotas and New Year's Day, Roman Holiday will attract some people to Rome. On the big screen, this year while most of the Mediterranean, especially the Balearics suffered a fall in tourism, the Greek island of Cephalonia, the setting for Captain Corelli's Mandolin starring Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz, experienced a 14 per cent rise in the number of holiday makers despite the island's tough stance against mass tourism. Iceland, already a trendy destination for Britons, is already enjoying another boom after being featured in the new James Bond film, Die Another Day, along with all the other usual exotic locations, including Cadiz as the 007 team returned to Spain for the second consecutive time. The movies expected to influence travel destinations next year include the new John Malkovich thriller, Ripley's Game. The film, which also stars Ray Winstone, is set in Berlin and is tipped to inspire people to visit the city. It is the follow-up to the Talented Mr Ripley, which provided a similar boost to Ischia and Italy's Amalfi coast. Mexico is expected to reap similar benefits from the film Once Upon a Time in Mexico, starring Antonio Banderas, Johnny Depp and Salma Hayek. Interest in the country has already been heightened by the Aztecs exhibition, which has become one of the most successful ever held at London's Royal Academy of Arts. ABTA president Stephen Bath said the huge impact films have on holiday destinations can not be underestimated. Films and television programmes can be extremely effective in promoting specific destinations. This may also be why Tourism Office chiefs around the world are always delighted when a film director chooses to set a film in their country.
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