Film Tourism and Desire to Travel: A Cross National Study of India and China

Film Tourism and Desire to Travel: A Cross National Study of India and China

Amit Kumar (Kurukshetra University, India) and Trinh Phuong Dung (Ton Duc Thang University, Vietnam)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0708-6.ch013
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Academic research on film tourism has been around since the early 1990s, but the popularity and extensiveness of research in this area has increased in recent years (Hahm, Upchurch & Wang, 2008; Beeton, 2010), with a number of studies examining the increase of visitor numbers to film locations (Beeton, 2005; Busby, Brunt, & Lund, 2003; Cousins & Anderek, 1993; Croy & Walker, 2003; Gundle, 2002; Kim & Richardson, 2003; Riley, Baker, & Van Doren, 1998; Riley & Van Doren, 1992; Schofield, 1996; Tooke & Baker, 1996; Di Cesare et al., 2009). Similarly, the impact of films on people's image formation has been widely acknowledged in the literature (Butler, 1990; Gartner, 1993; Iwashita, 2003). Films are not generally produced with the intent to attract tourists to a destination, but tend to influence viewers indirectly as a background part of the movie's message (Butler, 1990; Hudson & Ritchie, 2006). This is because they can present millions of viewers with substantial information about a destination, create a first-time image, or alter an existing image in a relatively short period of time (Hahm et al., 2008). Thus, this study makes a modest attempt in the direction of identifying the relationship between film tourism and tourist's desire to travel, which is a cross national comparison between India and China.
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Films and television series provide us with a window into other places that broaden our knowledge and can fuel our desire to travel. What has become known as film induced tourism has begun to gather momentum as an area of both academic research and industry interest. However, the phenomenon is wide-ranging and according to Beeton (2005), still a largely untapped and little-understood field of tourism research. Much of the literature to date has focused on the promotional aspects and the impacts of the phenomenon with little research into the motivations of the film-induced tourists themselves.

Although still in its early stage, the discourse on film and tourism has delivered interesting and important insights, not only by providing a fresh approach to understanding contemporary cultural and social dynamics, but also by connecting those insights to the economies of particular places throughout the world. Film is not the first art form to represent place through various techniques, but it is the one that is the most relevant to contemporary society because it has its origins in the same historical mix of processes that gave rise to them. To imagine the development of the past one hundred years without film as both a propeller and a recorder of its many rapid and expansive economic, political, social, cultural and technological transformations is impossible. From the mobilization of public opposition to fascism (eg: The Great Dictator, 1940), racism (eg: To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962), sexism (eg: Thelma & Louise, 1991) and environmental pollution (eg: Erin Brockovich, 2000) has played a notable role. This is not to say that films could in, film any way dictate or create cultural, social, political, and economic shifts, just that they have been a part of a mix of influences that have driven these processes for the past several decades. The more colloquial American term for film movies nicely conveys this quality of mobility that is essential to the form and which distinguishes it from other arts and which, although so familiar now as to be invisible, was a characteristic that was as profoundly moving in aesthetic terms as the locomotive, automobile and airplane were in functional ones. These technologies have always featured strongly in the medium, and have had their own impact on visual perception and therefore on visual arts and culture (Cosgrove, 1994; Harvey, 1990). As Giuliana Bruno succinctly observed, film stimulates emotion through motion and motion through emotion (2002). The connection between film and tourism seems natural now, but the current sub discipline owes much to its earliest pioneers, such as Riley et al, 1994; Tooke and Bake r, 1996; Mordue, 1999; Acland, 1998; Blythe, 1990, to cite just a few of the more influential writers in English who staked out the basic territory of the topic in the 1990s. It did not take long for certain themes to appear within it, however, such as lan dscape (Escher and Zimmerman, 2001, Hudson et al, 2011, Mordue, 2009; Connell, 2012; Roberts, 2010; Bregent-Heald, 2007), food (Mazumdar, 2011; Kim et al, 2012; Busby et al, 2013), and emotion (Kim, 2012b; Powell et al, 2012; Bruno, 2002). The relation that is central to each of these studies, that a film can inspire a viewer to travel to the destination that the film depicts, is still not thoroughly understood, given the myriad variables that work singly and in combination to influence tourist behavior (Connell, 2012). The discourse is really still in its infancy and much more work is needed to enable its maturation.

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