Agents can capitalise on Brits’ desire to visit film and TV hotspots, says Andy Freeth, managing director of Travel 2 and Gold Medal

It seems having the box set and quoting your favourite characters isn’t enough for some people, as the growing craze for ‘set-jetting’ shows. The phrase – the latest buzzword I’ve been reading about – refers to people visiting locations used as backdrops in film and TV productions while on holiday.

Ever since Petra made its Hollywood debut in the late 1980s I’ve wanted to follow in Indiana Jones’s footsteps and hot-foot it to Jordan. So, even though film-inspired holidays may not be an altogether new phenomenon, the sheer volume of channels and must-see dramas has helped this style of exploring reach mainstream consciousness in recent years and set travellers’ imaginations on fire.

While there’s much talk of virtual reality letting us explore the world from the comfort of our armchair, the good news for all of us in travel is that even the best technology still can’t conjure up the same emotion as visiting the exact spot where your favourite film was shot.

Silver screen gold

Tourist boards have been instrumental in drawing attention to film tourism travel, as growing numbers have woken up to the potential that tapping into popular culture can have in putting destinations on the map. And it’s easy to see why. Visitor numbers to Kefalonia increased by 50% in the three years after Captain Corelli’s Mandolin came out, while Thailand-based The Beach helped inspire a 22% rise in the youth market in 2000, the year it came out.

From a bookings perspective, the fact that our customers are increasingly influenced by what they watch, and seem keener than ever to retrace the steps of their favourite stars, is a gift that we would do well to capitalise on.

Best of all, you don’t have to be a film buff or drama queen to appreciate the destination, making it a great activity for couples and families to fit into an itinerary. After all, while The Lord of the Rings helped showcase New Zealand’s incredible scenery, it’s hard to imagine that the 10% annual increase in tourist revenue was down to hobbit lovers alone.

Even if you’re a bigger fan of the small screen than the big, TV shows are widening consumers’ horizons these days. The rise in low-fare flights to Iceland has no doubt done the most to spark a doubling of visitor numbers to the country in the past few years, but Game of Thrones can also take credit, ever since ‘throners’ got their first glimpse of Iceland’s otherworldly landscapes in season two.

Cook the books

These days, even if your client’s 
passion is more cooking or cars than fantasies and films, you can probably still find a way to help them. From 
Rick Stein’s Long Weekends to MasterChef taking its contestants abroad, it seems us viewers have increasingly got a taste for the exotic.

And, love it or hate it, there’s no doubt that the Top Gear trio helped put destinations as diverse as Bolivia, Vietnam and Myanmar on the map in their search for driving nirvana.

So next time your other half criticises you for dipping into a new box set, or you need an excuse to head to the cinema, you can do it all guilt-free by saying it’s in the name of research.

Whether you can still find a way to expense it is a different matter.