Homelatest newsHere's How Popular Shows Are Deciding Where You'll Travel Next

Here’s How Popular Shows Are Deciding Where You’ll Travel Next

In western countries, vacationers are flocking in record numbers to the locations of their favourite TV shows and movies. What was once tourists scoping out the Friends apartment in the West Village, and then Dubrovnik being swamped by Game of Thrones fans, is now specific hotels being completely sold out as a result of The White Lotus (an American television series).

According to the American Express Global Travel Trends Report, 64% of travellers made travel plans or were inspired to visit a specific country or destination after seeing it on a television show, news source, or film. The same percentage said they got ideas for activities at their destination from travel television shows, and 61 per cent said shows and films inspired them to visit specific stores or restaurants featured. However, more respondents (75%) said they used social media as inspiration for bookings, so Facebook and Instagram continue to be the most popular holiday planning platforms.

Set-popularity jetting’s can be attributed in part to pandemic habits. People who had to eat at home or were unable to travel binge-watched hours of television, such as the first seasons of HBO’s The White Lotus and Netflix’s Emily in Paris. Viewers started planning a trip where they could be the main character from their couch, dreaming about when travel restrictions would be lifted and having an unused leisure budget. With borders reopened, set-jetting is quickly becoming one of the most popular travel trends for 2023.

The White Lotus is a perfect example of this. The series was a critical and commercial success for HBO, as well as a romantic source of inspiration for travellers. The comedy-drama followed the awkward interactions between wealthy guests and hotel staff at a luxury resort, which resulted in the death of one of the guests.

Season one was shot at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, while season two was shot at the sun-drenched, Aperol spritz-laden seaside idyll of the San Domenico Palace in Taormina, Italy, another Four Seasons property. Viewers who binge-watched the show have been booking out the real properties where the show was filmed, looking for their own la dolce vita, giving the hotels featured a boost.

Decoding The ‘White Lotus Effect’:

“The popular set-jetting trend has significantly increased interest in Maui and Taormina, with both properties seeing a significant increase in website visits and availability checks, ultimately driving more bookings,” says Marc Speichert, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Bloomberg reported. 

According to Four Seasons, web traffic to the Four Seasons Maui site rose 425% year over year during season one alone. And all of those HBO binge-watchers on Sunday nights have had a significant impact on bookings in Sicily.

“The property is sold out for the upcoming season in Taormina throughout a number of dates, and the show has also placed a spotlight on Taormina as an outstanding destination,” the report said. The property’s rates begin around €1,000 per night ($1090).

San Domenico Palace Booked Until April 2023: 

In Italy’s Sicily, the San Domenico Palace, a former monastery overlooking the sea, has been reported to be “booked until April 2023,” but now, in the shoulder season, with temperatures in the low 20s, there is plenty of availability for those willing to pay Four Seasons-level prices (doubles this weekend from €1,050, including an “exceptional” breakfast), the Guardian reported. 

Despite the opulence of Maui’s Four Seasons, filmmaker Mike White found it depressing: “You go to these locations where you’re supposed to be hiding from all of the troubles of the world, and you realise you can’t really escape them,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “That sensation of unease is practically exacerbated in settings when you should feel so peaceful.”

The first season of White Lotus was acclaimed not just for depicting the negative impact of rich visitors on locals, but also for presenting Hawaii as a character in its own right, rather than as a background. Eastern Sicily, from the towering bulk of Etna to ancient Syracuse further south, is as well stocked with wonders as Four Seasons visitors are with Gucci luggage.

In the United Kingdom, the phenomenon has progressed from a pilgrimage to the crowded Kings Cross train station, where Harry Potter fans would visit Platform 9 ¾, where the boy wizard boarded his train to Hogwarts. Hordes of visitors stopped in the early 2010s to view Hampshire’s Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey was filmed. Bridgerton on Netflix is now drawing visitors to Bath for days.

(With Inputs From Agencies)

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