Films could boost revival of tourism industry globally: IIHTTR Conf 2021

The recent edition of India International Hotel, Travel and Tourism Research Conference (IIHTTRC), organized virtually from Feb 25-27, 2021 by Banarsidas Chandiwala Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, saw a series of interesting discussions on cinema and tourism. Two dedicated sessions on the role of cinema in promoting tourism, were included in the annual conference.  

On day two of the conference, Dr. Eugeni Osacar, Research Director & Professor at CETT-UB, Barcelona School of Tourism, Hospitality and Gastronomy, University of Barcelona delivered a keynote address on “Film Tourism as key factor for Destination Promotion”. He stated that as per the latest issue of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, the decline of 70% in the first 10 months of 2020 represents 900 million fewer international tourist arrivals compared to the same period in 2019 and translates into a loss of US$935 billion in export revenues from international tourism, which is more than 10 times the loss in 2009 under the impact of the global economic crisis. He emphasised that to again bring tourists back to destinations, films can be an excellent way to market a particular tourist destination. He said that film tourism is a powerful modality that destinations have to highlight for their differentiation and visibility. Sharing key insights from the available data, he said that in 2017 about 80 million tourists chose their destinations motivated after seeing it in a movie or a series, as well as the tourist products and attractions that are linked to cinema. This is important as it represents about 6% of the total tourists that year.

He said that it is important to do strategic planning so that a territory is competitive as a shooting destination. From the marketing perspective, films can be used as a unique communication to promote a destination by depicting value-based messages for the targeted audience. Film tourism can be used as a key factor for enhancing the tourism image and creating the film tourism offers. Promotional activities using film tourism help in reinforcing the brand destination while helping in revival of tourism post the COVID-19 pandemic.

He introduced the concept of movie maps, specialized guided tours and specialized apps to revive the tourism of the popular tourist destinations. These can become the best tools for motivating travel to revive tourism and combat seasonality and to create new segments which can diversify the tourists and also motivate them culturally and give them a positive experience.

During the third day of the conference, a panel discussion on the theme “Role of Films in Promoting Tourism & Hospitality Industry during and Post Covid-19” was organised. Key speakers in the panel were Prof. Tsuyoshi Kigawa, Wakayama University and Director, Japan Tourism Festival, Japan, Ms Spomenka,  Director, Zagreb Tourism Film Festival, Ms Nadia Oliveria, Director EATSA ART & Tourism Film Festival, Portugal and Dr. Eugeni Osacar, Professor- CETT-UB Barcelona, School of Tourism, Spain. The discussion was moderated by Rao Narender Yadav, Director, Woodpecker International Film Festival. Panelists in the discussion shared various steps that need to be taken to promote resilient and sustainable tourism practices, as the industry is re-building itself now and films as well as diverse film products and film-based events could play an extremely important role in the revival of industry in the coming years.  

The conference successfully concluded on February 27, 2021. According to Dr. Arvind Kumar Saraswati, Convenor of the Conference, “The 2021 edition of the conference focused on re-accessing the industry as per the prevailing environment and devise future strategies. Food, Facilities & Films are the three dimensions considered to be talked upon and discuss during the conference to re-strategize Hospitality, Travel & Tourism Industry.”

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