With 70% of Americans watching more TV in 2021 than they did in 2020, binge-watching has skyrocketed during the pandemic. Now, as borders reopen, restrictions ease and travel restarts, tour advisers are fielding an increasingly popular request: immersive, TV-themed itineraries that allow travelers to live out their favorite shows’ story lines.
In Britain, where all travel restrictions are now lifted, hotels in London have partnered with Netflix to offer Lady Whistledown-themed teas inspired by “Bridgerton” high society. In Yellowstone National Park, travelers are arriving in Wyoming not for a glimpse of Old Faithful, but for a chance to cosplay as John Dutton from the hit drama “Yellowstone.”
And in South Korea, where vaccinated travelers can now enter without quarantine, street food vendors on Jeju Island are anticipating a run on dalgona candy, the honeycomb toffees that played a central role in “Squid Game.”
“When you fall in love with a character, you can’t get it out of your mind,” said Antonina Pattiz, 30, a blogger who last year got hooked on “Outlander,” the steamy, time-traveling drama about Claire Beauchamp, a nurse transported 200 years back in history. Pattiz and her husband, William, binge-watched the Starz show together, and are now planning an “Outlander”-themed trip to Scotland in May to visit sites from the show, including Midhope Castle, which stands in as Lallybroch, the family home of another character, Jamie Fraser.
William Pattiz is part Scottish, Antonina Pattiz said, and their joint interest in the show kicked off a desire on his part to explore his roots. “You watch the show and you really start to connect with the characters and you just want to know more,” she said.
The fifth season of “Outlander” was available in February 2020, and Starz’s 142% increase in new subscribers early in the pandemic has been largely attributed to a jump in locked-down viewers discovering the show. During the ensuing two-year hiatus before Season 6 recently hit screens — a period of time known by fans as “Droughtlander” — “Outlander”-related attractions in Scotland, like Glencoe, which appears in the show’s opening credits and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, saw more than 1.7 million visitors. “Outlander”-related content on Visit Scotland’s website generated more than 350,000 page views, ahead of content pegged to the filming there of Harry Potter and James Bond movies.
The Pattizs, who live in New York City, will follow a 12-day self-driving sample itinerary provided by Visit Scotland, winding from Edinburgh to Fife to Glasgow as they visit castles and gardens where Claire fell in love and Jamie’s comrades died in battle. Private tour companies, including Nordic Visitor and Inverness Tours, have also unveiled customized tours.
Enduring Trend, New Intensity
Screen tourism, which encompasses not just pilgrimages to filming locations but also studio tours and visits to amusement parks like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is an enduring trend. Tourists flocked to Salzburg in the 1960s after the release of “The Sound of Music”; in recent decades, locations like New Zealand saw a huge bump in visits from “Lord of the Rings” fans and bus tours in New York City have offered tourists a chance to go on location of “Sex and the City” and “The Marvelous Ms. Maisel.”--NYT