The mandolin, and other crowd-pullers

Mark Rowe chooses 10 hit films and television series that put their locations on the map
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The Independent Travel

Captain Corelli's Mandolin


Louis de Bernières's best-seller drew both tourists and Hollywood. Nicolas Cage played Corelli on location for a film which served only to increase the volume of tourists heading for a hitherto little-visited Greek island and its picturesque harbour town of Sami. The film was beautifully shot; the only drawback is that it is now difficult to find any reference to the island that does not draw on the novel.

The Beach


A hit at the box office, The Beach proved a mixed blessing for the Thai tourist industry. Unbeatable as an inspiration for gap-year kids to tune in and drop out somewhere cheap, Maya Bay, the site of the film, was transformed overnight - from a tranquil and secluded lagoon into "Leo's Beach", overrun by devotees. The film-makers sparked a £1.6m lawsuit from environmentalists angry after they flattened the beach, stripped away native vegetation and planted non-native coconut trees.

The Lord of the Rings

New Zealand

The Kiwi tourism industry wasted no time in marketing its country, where most of the filming took place, as "the home of Middle Earth". Visitors from the UK alone have risen by five per cent off the back of the trilogy, and by 16 per cent for all international arrivals. The film showcased New Zealand's dramatic scenery, but the claims of even the remotest link to Tolkien's epic can become tiresome for visitors.

The Jewel in the Crown


The tangled tale of loves and lives in India's final years before independence, this 14-part adaptation of Paul Scott's Raj Quartet - which Granada took four years to make in India - remains one of the landmark location films of the sub-continent. The beautiful settings in Udaipur, Simla, Kashmir and Mysore encouraged large numbers of travellers of all budgets to venture there - in search, ironically, of a past that India was by this time keen to put behind it.

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet


The original series introduced viewers to the lesser-known merits of Dusseldorf, but the most recent series, based on a contract for the lads in Cuba, provided a boost for the Cuban tourist industry. Although the film was shot almost entirely in the Dominican Republic, the lush mountain scenery and crumbling urban façades were enough for Latin American specialists to declare an increase in bookings to Castro's island.

Indiana Jones and the

Last Crusade


If there is one thing that still draws American tourists to the Middle East it is the astonishing setting of Petra - and this is largely thanks to its role as a location in the third of Harrison Ford's adventures. The film raised the profile of this ancient city of the Nabateans, and even now it has up to 3,000 visitors a day, many brought there by the film.



The long-running comedy about America's most pretentious shrink and his brother planted this West Coast city firmly in the consciousness of the UK. Many visitors are surprised to find the skyline isn't quite as dramatic as the image at the start of each episode, but the sophisticated, coffee-drinking impression given by the series has drawn many visitors north from the more usual destinations of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The English Patient


The country's desert landscapes were used to dramatic effect in Anthony Minghella's 1996 adaptation of Michael Ondaatje's tale of wartime romance, and led to a rise in four-wheel-drive adventurers heading into "the Sahara of The English Patient". Some travel agents swear Monty Python's Life of Brian gave the initial boost to Tunisia's nascent tourist industry - Monastir is home to the square where Michael Palin's Pilate was urged to "welease Woger".

Calendar Girls

Yorkshire Dales

Picturesque Kettlewell in Wharfedale was used as the location of "Knapeley" in the 2003 film of the story of the women who posed artfully to raise money for the Leukaemia Research Fund. Julie Walters and Helen Mirren starred. Other locations in the film to have benefited include Kilnsey Crag, Conistone and Ingleton, often marketed by travel agents promoting "tours of Calendar Girl country".

The Harry Potter movies

Various UK locations

Many places latched on but tourism officials believe the cumulative effect was to project a positive image for the whole country after foot and mouth in 2001. Particular beneficiaries include Gloucester cathedral, whose cloisters have since attracted visitors from Japan; London Zoo; Goathland in the North Yorkshire Moors; and Durham Cathedral.