Kate Simon: The silver screen can create tourism gold

Travel View

It's not just the British film industry that will be applauding The King's Speech for winning four Oscars last Sunday. Britain's tourism industry will be celebrating, too.

For film tourism has revealed itself to be very lucrative. Who, beyond the history buffs, knew much about Alnwick Castle – let alone could pronounce its name (say Annick) – before the Harry Potter movies?

Now the screen location for Hogwarts is a must-visit destination for every true Potter fan (including all those parents who like to read a bit of Rowling by torchlight beneath the bedcovers). It had a 120 per cent rise in visitor numbers after the release of the first film, which also generated £9m in tourist revenue to the area.

The Da Vinci Code increased visitor numbers to Lincoln Cathedral, and put both Rosslyn Chapel in Midlothian, Scotland, and Temple Church in London firmly on the tourist trail. Pride & Prejudice – the film version starring Matthew Macfayden and Keira Knightley – brought fame to Burghley House, the exquisite Elizabethan country estate in Lincolnshire.

Ruth Hudson, operations manager at Burghley House, confirms the value of an attraction becoming a film set. "Filming is always great publicity and provides both national and international visitors with a new incentive to visit the house," she says. "The year after Pride & Prejudice was shown, our visitor numbers rose by 42 per cent."

A report by the soon-to-be-defunct UK Film Council, confirms that locations can experience a dramatic rise in visitor numbers. And it adds: "For films or TV programmes with cult status, such as Trainspotting, the tourism boost can last for years."

Film fans have even prompted local authorities to turn fiction into reality, according to the UKFC. The red telephone box in Local Hero, a prop discarded after filming, was enquired about so much that the location village of Pennan installed one and it is now a listed building. And at King's Cross Station in London a plaque was put up to mark the fictional Platform 93/4 in response to the demand from Potter fans.

Confirming just how important film tourism has become for our tourist attractions, the National Trust has just released a movie map (nationaltrust.org.uk/moviemap) to celebrate what it calls its "best year for filming". It says it locations have provided the setting for more major movie hits than ever before.

The King's Speech could result in a bumper year for Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire or even the Queen Street Mill Textile Museum in Burnley, Lancashire. But a friend of mine, who works in media relations for some English tourist boards, has a different take on how The King's Speech will fill tourism coffers. "I've done meet-the-travel-media in America, Belgium and Holland recently, and I've never picked up on so much interest in Britain," he tells me. "Part of the conversation has been about The King's Speech, part about the royal wedding, part about the Queen's diamond jubilee – and part, of course, about the Olympics. For all these reasons, Britain seems to be enjoying 'flavour of the month' status."

As a diehard republican, that's hard news to take. But the British tourist industry will be happy to hear it.

Do you have a travel issue?

Email sundaytravel@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Bid Writer

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Day In a Page

    Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

    ‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

    Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

    ... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
    12 best olive oils

    Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

    Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back