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Film Tourism Puts Georgia in the Spotlight

September 13, 2017  |  Kevin Langston, Deputy Commissioner, Georgia Department of Economic Development
This article appeared in the September 2017 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
Senoia, Atlanta, Covington, Tybee Island, Juliette...what do these very diverse cities and towns have in common? They have all seen the amazing transformative power that the film industry and the resulting film tourism have on a community—and they’re not alone.
The tourism and film industries go hand in hand—both have seen record growth year over year. In fact, last year the tourism industry, generated a record $61.1 billion in economic impact and provided employment for more than 450,000 Georgians. But, no other state in the nation has seen the incredible success Georgia has experienced in attracting the television and motion picture industry over the past several years. Georgia has become the film capital of the South, now standing third in the nation, according to the Motion Picture Association of America, with an economic impact of $9.5 billion in fiscal year 2017. The 320 feature film, television productions and music videos that filmed in Georgia in 2017 had a direct spend of $2.6 billion in the state.
So many communities across Georgia are embracing and welcoming film productions and heeding the call to create lasting tourism products that will welcome film and television fans for years to come. Georgia’s communities are the reason Georgia is one of the top destinations in the world for film and visitors.
Many of the same assets that make Georgia a terrific destination for visitors—spectacular mountain vistas, cosmopolitan cities, a beautiful unspoiled coastline and charming small towns—make Georgia the perfect location for movie and television productions. Georgia can double for just about any type of location a director might need.
During scouting and filming, film and television productions are significant customers for hotels and restaurants across the state, often requiring multiple hotel rooms for months at a time, particularly for television series. The really great news, though, is that the impact of film continues long after the cameras stop rolling through the many tourism opportunities a production can provide.
Places like the city of Senoia have seen a huge rise in entertainment-related tourism. As the site of 24 shows and movies, from current hits like “The Walking Dead” and “Footloose” to classics like “Fried Green Tomatoes” and “Driving Miss Daisy,” the small community has been forever changed. Dozens of movie tours have become thriving entities across the state, which has helped to foster growth in many filming locations and boosted the industry’s tourism appeal.
Another major benefit of film tourism is its very “long tail.” Consumers’ interest in their favorite movies and TV shows is incredibly enduring. Take as an example the fact that five episodes of “The Dukes of Hazzard” filmed in the city of Covington in 1979, and visitors still go to Covington to see the sites used in the hit show nearly 40 years later. Given the huge number and popularity of many of the programs filming now, we can anticipate fans exploring Georgia’s film locations for decades to come.
To build on the interest in Georgia’s entertainment industry, our team at Georgia Tourism declared 2017 the “Year of Georgia Film” to shine the spotlight on the state’s many film tourism offerings. The Georgia Tourism team has set the stage for a blockbuster year by focusing ongoing digital, social, public relations and sales efforts on film-inspired tourism—including the locations, attractions, tours, experiences, events, restaurants and lodging that have played vital roles in casting Georgia as a top-tier film destination. By increasing visitation to entertainment-related destinations across the state, we can enhance the film industry’s long-term impact on tourism in Georgia.
We’ve found that nearly one in five travelers has visited a location that they have seen featured in a movie or television show. Research has shown us that positioning the state as a place to visit locations from movies and television shows can improve the state’s competitive position as a leisure destination.
When people think of “Forrest Gump,” “The Hunger Games,” “Driving Miss Daisy” and “The Walking Dead,” we want them to instantly think of Georgia and the locations used in those, and many other, iconic films and television shows. Viewers and fans are hungry to see and experience their favorite shows, movies and characters, and we’re ready to welcome them to Georgia.
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