Seen the film? Visit the 'screen site'

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The Independent Travel

What industry would seek to link its products with bloodshed, ill-health and catastrophe? Tourism, of course, which has done just this in a series of internet links to "screen sites" where industry bosses hope we will want to take our holidays.

What industry would seek to link its products with bloodshed, ill-health and catastrophe? Tourism, of course, which has done just this in a series of internet links to "screen sites" where industry bosses hope we will want to take our holidays.

Hoseasons, for example, hopes to attract guests to its Holiday Park at Tilford Woods, Surrey, because it was where the opening scene of the blockbuster Gladiator was filmed. This was a bloody battle showing squelchy disembowelment quite at odds with the company's description of Tilford as "the classic English village where the local pub, the Barley Mow, overlooks the cricket ground".

In the South West, the actress Jenny Agutter has just launched a map showing 80 film locations in the area. "People love to visit places where their favourite films have been shot and relive some of their favourite screen moments," says South West Tourism's publicity. But many of the locations seem unsuited to the usual tourist ambitions, including the Bristol of Casualty. Do tourists really want to see where actors pretending to be paramedics once walked?

Karen Martin of South West Tourism agrees that not all the locations will be tourist draws in their own right. "The South West has a thriving film industry, which can stimulate tourism by association," she said. She points to the effect of TV series such as Last of the Summer Wine and Heartbeat, both of which boosted tourism in Yorkshire.

There is also a general and perhaps longer-lasting effect, she added. "Bath has lots of tourists stimulated by the recent Jane Austen adaptations, and Torbay has long benefited from its association with Agatha Christie," she said.

There is some justification for the idea that films can bring a fillip to local tourism. Ryan's Daughter kicked off tourism to County Kerry in Ireland almost singlehandedly, while the 1960s TV series The Prisoner is still attract increasing numbers of visitors to Portmeirion in Wales.

Nor is the screen tourism craze confined to Britain. The wastes of Ontario are being promoted as the stamping-ground of Grey Owl, the hero of Lord Attenborough's latest biopic. But perhaps this is a job for the Southern Tourist Board. The real identity of Grey Owl - the "first eco-warrior" who lived as an American Indian - was one Archie Balloney who came from Hastings.

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