Movies that attract visitors cause problems for locals

Italian Americans forever fight mafia stereotypes. New Zealanders are sick and tired of Tolkien tourists. Italian cops drove people out of Rome’s Trevi Fountain.

Hit hits like “The Godfather” and “The Lord of the Rings” can bring a massive influx of tourism to the places where they are filmed. But headaches often follow.

In 1996, Mel Gibson’s historical action film “Braveheart“led to a 300% increase in visitors to the National Wallace Monument in Scotland. Similarly, the”Harry Potter“The film franchise has increased tourism by at least 50% for every place in the UK where films have been filmed, according to a article in the Journal of Travel Research in 2006.

Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” has led to a 300% increase in visitors to the National Wallace Monument in Scotland.

20th Century-Fox | Moviepix | Getty Images

“Film tourism,” as it is known, can strengthen the local economy and can bridge the gaps caused by the calm of seasonal tourism. But there is often a downside.

Negative connotations

Considered one of the greatest films of all time – “The Godfather“- has created a unique set of problems for the places presented in the film.

Part of the film was set in the Sicilian town of Corleone, where the character of mafia boss Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando, was born and raised before immigrating to New York.

Fans of the “The Godfather” trilogy still associate Corleone, in Sicily, with crime, violence and mafia culture.

Michael Ochs Archives Moviepix | Getty Images

Artist Maria D. Rapicavoli, who studied the place called Corleone, said many tourists would go looking for the atmosphere of “The Godfather” but leave disappointed when they encounter no mobsters.

“I’m not sure what they’re looking for – maybe for men holding guns on the street or … women wearing black?” he told CNBC.

Rapicavoli examined his experiences here in an exhibition entitled “If You Saw What I Saw,” writing that Corleone is a place where people “play the role of actors in front of a demanding tourist audience as if their city ​​would be a permanent film. “

In a description of the sample, told people she met: a Polish tourist looking for “The Godfather’s Country”, a Canadian who was happy to be in a “real mafia atmosphere” and a tour guide who had given lessons about the mafia Italian.

Ironically, the film was not even shot in Corleone, but in the Sicilian villages of Savoca and Forza d’Agro.

The popularity of “The Godfather”, and also “Goodfellas“and The Untouchables, “has also caused problems in the United States. Some argue those films unfairly Italian American stereotype as violent and misogynistic criminals to the millions of spectators who watched them.

Reckless behavior

“The Hangover“and his depictions of wildly addicted wild bachelor parties can encourage reckless behavior in Las Vegas. People try to imitate famous scenes in the film, including sneaking up to the roof and wondering where to find live tigers, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

People always quote the famous line “Did Caesar live here?” in the main lobby of Caesars Palace, a hotel representative told CNBC. Others ask to stay in the “Hangover Suite” – even if those portions of the film have been shot on a movie.

A wax figure of actor Zach Galifianakis portraying the character Alan Garner in “The Hangover’ Experience ”at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas.

Bryan Steffy | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Tour packages is recreated sets in Las Vegas let the fans of the trilogy relive the film without the disease.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, film fans defy local laws.

Since the release of the famous Italian director Federico Fellini “La Dolce Vita“in the 1960s, inspired tourists imitated it the most memorable scene of the film climbing into the Trevi Fountain in Rome. To this day – about 60 years later – the Italian authorities continue to fight with excessive fan lights, which some have dresses worn with pride and fur stoles as they turned around the fountain.

Actors Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg at the Trevi Fountain in Rome while shooting “La Dolce Vita” by director Federico Fellini in 1959.

Umberto Cicconi | Archive Hulton | Getty Images

Other incidents have been more chaotic. Tourists were caught swimming and splashing, sometimes naked. Others have tried to climb on the sculptures or sculpting their names in them, putting the architecture at risk.

Rome authorities have begun picking up the offenders and have raised fines of up to 450 euros ($ 527) for disorderly conduct around the fountain, according to Italian media.

In 2020, a plan to build a steel and glass barrier 1 meter high around the perimeter of the fountain was approved by the city council of Rome but received strong criticism from heritage experts who worried it would ruin the view.


Fans of the film can take “Second Breakfast” at Hobbiton in Matamata, New Zealand.

Anna Gorin | Moment | Getty Images

According to Tourism New Zealand, the films are the reason why about 10% of all visitors to New Zealand in 2019 are seriously considering a trip there. Those travelers will add about 630 million New Zealand dollars ($ 437 million) to the country’s economy in 2019 alone, the tourism authority told CNBC.

A survey by the tourism board, however, showed this almost one in five Kiwis they are worried that the country will attract too many tourists. Overcrowding in tourist areas, lack of infrastructure, congestion of roads and damage to the environment create tensions between locals and visitors, according to a 2019 Report from Tourism New Zealand.

Popularized by Leonardo DiCaprio’s adventure drama “The Beach,“Maya Bay on the Thai island of Phi Phi Leh was closed to visitors in 2018 after a spike in tourists damaged the island’s environment.

The popularity of Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2000 adventure film “The Beach” led Thailand’s Maya Bay to become a hotspot for international tourists.

Lillian Suwanrumpha AFP | Getty Images

Since the film’s release in 2000, the bay, once deserted, has become a popular daytime destination for tourists coming from Phuket and Krabi. Tourists, he said number up to 5,000 per day, traveled by boats in the area, leaving behind litter and pollution that damage local wildlife and coral.

About three years later, Maya Bay remained closed. Some visitors were allowed to tour the island as part of a reopening test, a Thai tourism representative told CNBC.

Excessive impact

A fan dressed as the Rey character from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” sits on Skellig Michael, an island declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Charles McQuillan | Getty Images News | Getty Images

However, contrary to media reports, UNESCO has not considered the growth of tourists a threat to the site.

Mechtild Rossler, director of the UNESCO World Heritage Center, said UNESCO has contacted Ireland for an increase in tourism in Skellig Michael following the release of the “Star Wars” films.

“Ireland has informed the World Heritage Center that there has been an increase in visitors to the area of ​​the continent, which has not been reflected in the numbers visiting the island itself,” he said.

Skellig Michael is open from May to September, but tourists are cupped at 180 every day, a representative from the Irish Public Works Office told CNBC. This limit was imposed in 1994 and approved by UNESCO in 1995, according to a draft management plan for the site published in November 2020.

Tourist ferries to the island are also limited and require special permits to operate, Rossler said.

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