By;Elsa Lunani:Head of DStv Business,MultiChoice Kenya:
Since Independence,film tourism has proved to be a powerful tool for attracting visitors to various destinations in Kenya.
Locally produced films like ‘Bush Trackers’,‘Kolormask’ and ‘The Married Bachelor’ to award-winning international films like ‘Out of Africa’, ‘Mountains of the Moon’, ‘Nowhere in Africa’, ‘The Constant Gardener’, ‘To Walk with the Lions’ and ‘The Big Cat Diary’ shot in the country are among a long list of key success stories.
Physical landscapes like mountains and lakes, wildlife, beaches at the coast, and Kenya’s cultural sites featured prominently as perfect filming locations for these productions.
And they not only showcased Kenya as a perfect cinematic location but also significantly marketedthe country as a major global tourism destination.
Maasai Mara where ‘The Big Cats’ was filmed, Lake Turkana where ‘The Constant Gardener’ was shot as well as Baringo, Bogoria, and Mt Kenya, the key filming locationsfor ‘Nowhere in Africa’ are among key tourism attraction sites in Kenya.
The Kenya Annual Tourism Sector Performance Report 2022 shows that 2.17 million tourists, 1.6 million being domestic tourists visited National parks in 2022.
This affirms the popularity of these locations and destinations followingtheir appearance in the films and a huge potential for screen tourism as a specialized niche form of tourism.
This Trend where tourists fall in love with different characters and storylines in films is not just a local phenomenon.
A recent survey conducted by U.S.-based imaging brand Photo Aid, aptly shows how big screen tourism is in the region with 96percent of Americans saying they have visited places associated with their favorite television shows or movies at least once in their lifetime.
Out of more than 1,000 survey participants, 78percent of the travelers are likely or very likely to opt for TV- or movie-themed trips in 2023 and beyond.
The most common reason to engage in film tourism, 35percentof the travelers said, is to enjoy an immersive experience that lets you live out shows’ or movies’ storylines and follow in the footsteps of famous characters.
US travelers picked Hawaii among the most desirable film tourism destinations following the success of the ‘Jurassic Park film.
In post-pandemic, we are seeing a similar phenomenon taking shape locally.Tourists are beginning to follow and enquire about locations where their favorite movies and TV shows have been filmed.
Even hotel staff and management executives are beginning to take a ride on this wave mostly for aesthetics-The majority are yet to explore the underlying huge business potential of driving in visitor numbers and turning them into more bed nights and revenues.
These local tourism stakeholders are also getting curious and are beginning to enquire if various of their ‘best’ rooms, outdoor landscapes, and locations within the establishments will be prominently featured in almost every film we produce. In the past, the location of films only appeared in the credits where few would notice them.
Now we are seeing names of hotels and even hospitals as part of the film content.It becomes such a big deal for hotel executives when some of the best local celebrities and influencers are part of the cast in these films and TV shows shot in their location.
With the government’s plan to increase annual tourism numbers to 10 million over the next five years, this is the right time for hotel establishments to begin reviewing and aligning with these trends.
For hotels and accommodation facilities to stay ahead of the curve, they need TV packages tailored based on these trends to provide guests with in-room viewing so good they won’t want to leave. This will transform these establishments into venues every client wants to walk into.
Big opportunities lie in bringing to customers, the most loved movies and TV shows and tapping into strategic business opportunities for co-production of local and international films.
But it requires reliable data to know how best hotels can revamp their Tv Entertainment experiences, Key attraction selling points like having films with the right mix of celebrities and key influencers to effectively tap into these opportunities.
- The writer is Head of DStv Business,MultiChoice Kenya