Critical Regionalism vs Regional Tourism: Any attention is good attention

Take advantage of the film industry in your backyard

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5 thoughts on “Critical Regionalism vs Regional Tourism: Any attention is good attention

  1. I’m going to hop in early with a response to Jessica’s positive summary of the potential of Australian screen content to boost tourism. This has been a successful strategy in other national and regional contexts (especially in New Zealand).

    Hollywood has done this very effectively too, and not just with landscape but with other kinds of brand and product placement. So the idea of renting out screen space to commercial interests isn’t new.

    The risk is that this leads to the overrepresentation of Australian outback landscapes as being the most distinctive tourist destination. As a secondary problem, relatively less successful films don’t generate the kind of cult tourism that follows productions like Lord of the Rings, so then it really makes more sense to bring in larger budget foreign productions to use Australian landscapes as a backdrop.

    I’m curious to hear from anyone who has gone to visit a film or TV show location. Why?

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  2. As Kate mentioned in her comment above, the over representation of Australian landscapes can pose as a problem for the tourism industry in Australia. Over representations can lead to stereotyping and blurred perceptions about Australia as a holiday destination.
    In the past, Australia has commonly used landscapes such as Uluru and Kangaroo Island to promote Australia’s indigenous culture. However, over time this has become unsuccessful. Statistics released by Tourism Australia last year in October, revealed that only 14%, of the 6.1 million people who travel to Australia, participate in indigenous cultural experiences. (Tourism Australia 2014)This has proved to be an ongoing trend over time, as in the last 5 years there has been a decline in sales by 5% and a fall in expenditure by 4%. (Australia Tourism 2014)
    To combat this issue in 2015, Tourism Australia with the help of Director/Cinematographer Warwick Thornton will be releasing a series of short films which will represent the Australian indigenous culture in a unique way. Thornton aims to quash international misconceptions about indigenous people living in “rural dusty desert like landscapes”. By doing so, Thornton aims to film a wide range of versatile locations in a compelling way, hoping to arouse interest and participation from visitors. (Thorton 2014)
    This is a good example of how the Australian tourism industry needs to focus their attention on finding innovative ways to broadcast Australia to international audiences.

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  3. As Kate stated, New Zealand is a country notorious for its successful marketing of films to boost tourism. Visiting locations such as Paradise and Arrowtown in the South Islands had my family and I in awe of the picturesque landscapes we had only known from watching the Lord of the Rings series. It was incredibly exciting as we drove and trekked through the same paths where beloved characters such as Legolas and Aragon had battled; it provided an emotional connection and familiarity to the land regardless of the fact that it was my first ‘real-life’ visit.

    New Zealand’s tourism sector has successfully marketed this blockbuster to leverage the tourism message further, converting fans into travellers. With the success of Tolkein’s work at the blockbuster, ‘Tourism New Zealand’ announced that they would incorporate the concept of 100% middle earth, 100% Pure new zealand to underpin the campaign work. Even when we boarded the plane to return back to Australia, NZ airlines had incorporated LOTR into a series of humorous, in-flight safety videos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBlRbrB_Gnc.

    Similarly, the Australian horror ‘Wolf Creek’ saw an increase of tourists adventuring to the Wolfe Creek crater, fuelled by curiosity and its association with the horror film about outback serial killer Mick Taylor. According to Dr Gemma Blackwood, lecturer in communications at Charles Darwin University, says films with a negative storyline attract people to the place where the film is set. Locals who live near the iconic site have utilised the films popularity by selling t-shirts with slogans such as ‘I survived Wolf Creek Crater’. These examples demonstrate that tourists can also learn about destinations in a passive way without the aggressive impressions intrinsic in paid advertising (Beeton 2002).

    However, its worth noting that the images portrayed in films/television play an important role in influencing travellers expectations of a destination. Thus, it is essential for these portrayals to not overshadow the locations original identity, as it can lead to incorrect/negative stereotyping. For instance, tourists may be let down when the community does not behave or dress in the way shown in a film/television series and may be deterred from visiting a place.

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  4. As the other comments have already stated, Australia is in danger of over-representing the outback scene as iconic Australia. In reality, the outback with red sand and strange wildlife is largely inaccessible, or at least difficult to get to. As Jessica mention in her post, Australia needs to be aware of tourists wanting to see these areas and preparing them for that.
    Using films to promote tourism is a well used idea by many, such as New Zealand and the United States, as mentioned in previous comments. This is an idea that the Australian film industry can follow, as they have with Mad Max and Wolf Creek. Other destinations could be promoted more however, for example major cities beyond the obvious landmarks (eg the Sydney Harbour Bridge) and the many coastal regions of Australia that are both secluded and already popular tourist destinations. Australia has a lot to offer and the Australian film industry could do a better job at promoting it.

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  5. A lot of other people have said it, and it is because it is true the outback is becoming over-saturated in the market. Every time I see a new Australian film based in Australia there will be some form of outback scene in it 90% of the time. Our country is more than just the outback, we have the cities of the east coast, the regional surfer towns of the north east and south east coast, we have one of the best reefs in the world in QLD as well as the Daintree rainforest to name a couple of examples. I think the market has seen enough of the Outback and it is time for the market to see the hidden jewels of the Australian landscape. Jessica states in her post that tourists need to see what else in in this country besides red sand and animals that will kill you just by looking at you. The use of a film set in sydney, or on the south east coast or even on Frazer island would show Australia is more than red sand and deadly animals.

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