Increasing Tourism Though...Cartoons

There have recently been tourist booms in places where famous movies have been set. What tourism boards may have missed is that other forms of media may also be as equally effective in promoting a location.

There have recently been tourist booms in places where famous movies have been set. What tourism boards may have missed is that other forms of media may also be as equally effective in promoting a location.

The media has well publicised the effect that movies can have on local tourism. The Harry Potter series, partially filmed in Oxford University has helped to encourage fans to flock to the college town to take a look at it for themselves. The success of the Da Vinci Code and its sequel, Angels and Demons, has resulted in over a dozen unofficial companion books documenting each location, and some even offering guides to tour each location depicted in the book.

Moving to Middle Earth, the Lord of the Rings trilogy has helped create a boom in New Zealand tourism, whose picturesque scenery was the basis for many of the scenes set in the movies.

A friend’s blog ( that I have been following recently alerted me to the fact that movies are not the only medium that can generate an influx of movie tourists. All mediums, including cartoons, can have a similar effect.

ARIA is a Japanese comic (known as “manga”) which is set around 200 years in the future. In that world, Mars has been terraformed into a watery planet, the original Venice has been destroyed by global warming while a spiritual replica has been built on Mars.

The real Venice and Aria's Venice compared.
The story focuses on the lives of three female gondoliers learning to become professional water guides to the city, and of their experiences, friendship and growth.

The manga, and subsequent animation was extremely well received both in Japan and around the world. It was so popular that people started to go to Venice solely because of ARIA. The blog, in fact, actually provides detailed comparisons as well as maps and location guides on how to visit the places depicted in ARIA, with several other blogs indicating that they used Venice the Origination as their main source of locations for Venice, and cited the cartoon as their inspiration for going.

While Venice is already swamped with tourists and may not appreciate more, imagine if the same scenario applied to a location with a fledging tourism industry. In Japan, a recent animated series called Lucky Star features characters whom, in the series, live in a Shinto temple called Washinomiya Shrine. Although the characters are obviously fictional, the shrine itself exists and is accurately depicted in the series.

After the series had developed a dedicated fan base, the number of visitors increased dramatically and swamped the sleepy shine and town. Locals saw the economic opportunity and cashed in on it, offering branded goods and promoting things such as food with pictures of the characters in front of their store. It generated a continual stream of revenue given the series popularity. Even now, events are held for economic gain whenever a character’s “birthday” comes along.

As we can see, popular media beyond movies can help to influence travel plans and generate large amounts of revenue for the destination. To tap into this opportunity, tourism promotion boards can promote their cities, countries or regions as the setting of choice to people such as cartoon writers and novelists or through other alternate channels, to inspire them to set their stories in certain countries.

In fact, they may even take an additional step by actually sponsoring such people or providing some sort of incentive to set their cartoons in certain places.

Alternatively, if the interest is already there, tourism boards can respond by targeting these niche markets by advertising directly to them. For example, Venice would have benefitted from the additional tourists if they had advertised custom tours to Venice in the comic itself.

Increasingly sophisticated and creative marketing can only help to bring in additional tourist revenue, especially during leaner times.



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K Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead: Increasing Tourism Though...Cartoons
Increasing Tourism Though...Cartoons
There have recently been tourist booms in places where famous movies have been set. What tourism boards may have missed is that other forms of media may also be as equally effective in promoting a location.
K Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead
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