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Image of Sherlock - Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Watson in front of Thames

Screen tourism part of Mayor of London’s new vision for visits to the capital

Date posted: 01.04.2015

In an announcement last week, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson revealed his new vision to build on London's success as a top destination of culture-hungry visitors.

Through a new strategy, the Mayor aims to enable London to increase its economic impact even further. With the global market for international travellers becoming increasingly competitive, the strategy's goal will be to create jobs and ensure the future sustainability of London's cultural organisations.

Measuring cultural tourism

This announcement followed the publishing of a new report last week highlighting the economic impact of cultural tourism in London.

With four out of five travellers citing culture as their main reason for coming to London, the report took the term to mean a broad engagement with London's arts and entertainment offer, both free and paid. This ranges from museums and galleries to dance, comedy, fashion, festivals, literature, history, heritage and architecture.

The report, entitled 'Take a Closer Look: A Cultural Tourism Vision for London 2015-17,' shows that cultural tourists spent £7.3 billion in 2013, generating £3.2 billion for our economy and supporting 80,000 jobs in the capital.

The value of screen tourism

One of the areas highlighted in the report was the economic impact of screen tourism.

Locations on film have often proven a pull for tourists, especially here in London. Visitors have been making their way to Notting Hill ever since a foppish Hugh Grant appeared in the 1999 hit of the same name, while Sherlock and Harry Potter continue to draw fans to the UK capital from around the world.

The Mayor's report cited screen tourism research undertaken by EuroScreen, the Europe-wide screen tourism project headed up by Film London. Through evaluation of social media chatter, EuroScreen was able to find the equivalent figure in online ad spend for the free publicity screen tourism provides. The appeal of Notting Hill, for example, has generated the equivalent of £19.5m in online ad spend for the capital, with Harry Potter and Sherlock have netted £10.4m and £10.8m respectively.

Quoted in the Mayor's report, Film London's Daniela Kirchner says, "Screen tourism contributes hugely to the brand value of cities that feature in films and on television. The emotional link that you build with a film or television programme is an experience you want to relive. We don't need a new museum building for this because London is its own film museum. We just need to turn the lights on."

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