Ten years after the release of the last episode, Star Wars mania lives on. Fans across the world are about to rush into movie theatres to finally watch the seventh film of the series, "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens", released this Wednesday. Filming locations will benefit from extraordinary international exposure, so these destinations may expect a real boost for their tourism activity.
Close to one third of tourists are said to be influenced by what they see in movie theatres before choosing a travel destination. Needless to say, the latest Star Wars episode will probably have a significant impact on the series’ countless fans. Some of the destinations featured on-screen tried to estimate these repercussions, expecting to reach new heights in terms of visiting figures and tourist revenue over the next few years.
Among them, England alone has three filming locations: the RAF Greenham Common airfield in Berkshire, Lake District National Park, and the Forest of Dean in the county of Gloucestershire. The latter hopes to become a leading tourist destination, after developing a new trail inspired by the Star Wars universe. The local tourism board expects a £35 million gain in tourism revenues within the next three years. In the long run, it expects to increase its tourism revenue from £300 million today to £357 million by 2020.
Ireland should also join the light side of the Force, as several scenes were shot on County Kerry's Skellig Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Regional authorities estimate that the impact of Star Wars’ seventh episode will be similar to that of the series Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland. Generally speaking, the country expects to break new records in terms of visiting figures in 2015 with 7.9 million international visitors, +11% from 2014. Tourism revenue should increase by 16%, reaching 4.2 billion Euros. The performance of Irish tourism should continue to improve next year, with 8.2 million foreign visitors expected in 2016.
Abu Dhabi is also on the featured list of filming locations in the saga’s latest episode. Some scenes were shot in the Rub’al Khali, the largest contiguous sand desert in the world. The United Arab Emirates intends to benefit from the repercussions of the movie in the field of tourism.
Finally, Lake Mývatn and the Krafla volcanic area in Iceland should attract their fair share of Star Wars fans, as many scenes of the movie were filmed among the island’s snowy mountains.
These different destinations have every reason to expect growth in tourism activity, as “screen tourism” is no new phenomenon. New Zealand registered a 40% growth in the sector between 2000 and 2006 thanks to the Lord of the Rings, and Tunisia is still welcoming Star Wars fans from around the world 40 years after the release of the original film.
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