SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: In 2001 New Zealand’s alluring and lush landscapes enchanted audiences around the world, as they watched Frodo embark on an epic quest across Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings. As a result the country has seen a 400% increase in tourism and has leveraged this exposure to boost its hospitality and retail industries.
At the 2015 Durban FilmMart, which runs until 20 July alongside the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), the KwaZulu Natal Film Commission presented research findings and a strategy to maximise the collaboration potential between the film and tourism industries. “Film and TV series are increasingly an attractive form of destination promotion,’ said CEO Carol Coetzee. “Films reach a large audience and a number of tourists visit a location as a result of them seeing it on TV or in a film.’
Overseas countries have a number of ways in which productions are used as a way to promote tourism. Film tours or maps allow visitors to see where a particular movie scene was shot, and often feature branded set-ups where they can take a selfie or be part of the experience in some way. Famous movie locations are a huge tourism draw card. Locations and facilities featured in the 1994 film Four Weddings and a Funeral, are booked three years in advance because of their exposure in the movie.
Researcher Paul Jones said, “We understand the benefits films have on hotels and locations. We want to engage with the hospitality industry and encourage them to allow films to utilise their facilities. There is a huge knock on effect.’ Jones explained that the KZN game-farm where local film Between Friends was shot has experienced a notable increase in bookings since the film’s release. “People want to book somewhere they have seen before,’ he commented.
Coetzee explained that though KZN is a strong tourist and film destination, government incentives are needed to attract filmmakers to utilise the location and collaborative marketing initiatives between the commission and local municipalities are needed to create awareness about the regions potential. Moving forward Coetzee seeks to promote awareness and an understanding of the film industry within local municipalities and would like filmmakers to receive more support and guidance when shooting in the region. She stated she also intended to further leverage events such as DIFF as platforms of opportunity for KZN tourism, and would like to see an increase in KZN filmmakers, which could sufficiently support large international productions.
In addition, Coetzee made mention of plans to develop a Film City in KZN, which would serve as a hub for a number of facets in the industry.