Cinema Tourism (Set-Jetting) is a reality, and you only have to do the Math to realise that.
Following the release of Out of Africa, the number of visitors to Kenya increased by 500%; while visitors to the Wallace Monument rose by 300% following the release of Braveheart.
The Crown Hotel, Amersham, had to put up the ‘No Vacancies’ sign for three years following the steamy scenes between Hugh Grant and Andy McDowell filmed there during Four Weddings and a Funeral. And the list goes on.
Spain has been slow to follow the trend, which is surprising considering that it is the non-English speaking country with most English language films ever shot; over 700 and still counting.
Valencia resident Bob Yareham has been trying to do something about that for years, encouraging Town Halls and Provincial governments to develop this rewarding form of tourism.
His book ‘Movies Made in Spain’ identifies the locations of 720 films and mini-series filmed partly or wholly in Spain in English.
But it’s an uphill task; the authorities in Valencia have done nothing to take advantage of the filming of Tomorrowland with George Clooney and Hugh Laurie at the City of Arts and Sciences; the authorities at Trebuena, Cádiz tore down the Japanese POW camp built there by Steven Spielberg for Empire of the Sun, and with a few glorious exceptions, the making of all these films is not being harnessed by tourism entities in order to attract new visitors.
Putting his money where his mouth is, Bob and a colleague, Jaume Palau, a Catalan expert in tourism, who is the author of books about the locations of James Bond films (many of them in Spain) and Game of Thrones (ditto), are organising an event in Cuenca in an attempt to encourage a private-public cinema tour, visiting the main locations in that province, which has witnessed filming by Richard Lester, Sergio Leone, Stanley Kramer, John Milius, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, “Brosnan, Pierce Brosnan,” Charlton Heston, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Benicio del Toro, Tim Robbins, Robert de Niro, Oliver Reed, Michael York and Geraldine Chaplin, to name but a few.
The cinema tourists will be able to watch the scenes from the film shot at the very locations they are visiting.
Cuenca is an enchanting province, but not one that is saturated by tourists, and as well as the spectacular city, perched on a hill, it has three major international filming locations; the castle of Belmonte, the monastery of Uclés and the bizarre, geological rock formations of La Ciudad Encantada and Los Callejones de Las Majadas.
With the help of local audio-visual producer Alejandro Pacios, politicians, tourist organisations, film producers, tour operators, hotel and restaurant owners and other potential merchandising manufacturers have all been invited on February 4th to the Parador Nacional de Cuenca (where Pierce Brosnan stayed while filming The World is not Enough) to a round table meeting, from which it is planned to go beyond talking and produce a pilot tour to tap into the unexploited market for cinema tourism.
One local travel company has already responded and created Spain’s first ever cinema tourism package, which will take place on the weekend of 1st April, (and that’s no joke).
This first tour will probably be for northern European residents in and around Valencia and the Costa Blanca, bearing in mind that the high speed train (AVE) connects Valencia and Cuenca in an hour.
The Cuenca project will be followed in March 2017 by a similar one in the province of Guadalajara, where Katherine Hepburn and Vanessa Redgrave made The Trojan Women.
Anybody who would like to be kept informed about the planned tour, provisionally entitled ‘Cuenca: Cinema City, Silver Screen Shire’ can send an e-mail to email@example.com