With most people glued to their television sets at home since 2020, it's no wonder that the most popular shows are shaping travel aspirations for revenge travel.
According to online travel shopping company Expedia, "set-jetting" or traveling to locations featured in television and films is one of the unexpected travel trends that will take off in 2023. Their recent study shows that 66% of travelers globally have considered visiting a destination after seeing it featured in a show or movie they’ve streamed at home, while 39% have actually booked trips for the same reason.
“Research shows that TV shows are now the top sources of travel inspiration (40%), outpacing the influence of social media (31%)," points out Melanie Fish, travel expert and head of global public relations for Expedia Brands in a report on travel trends by MSN.
"The top destinations include New Zealand—with its landscapes featured this year in a major fantasy epic—and Great Britain, which was the backdrop for several historical dramas including Bridgerton and House of Dragon.”
For Filipino tourists, Asian countries like South Korea and Japan have also been in high demand thanks in part to the popularity of K-dramas and other Japanese live-action shows and anime films. A survey from the Korea Tourism Organization reveals that roughly 47% of respondents said they intend on visiting South Korea within the next three years due to the positive impact of K-content incuding TV shows, with tourists from the Philippines having the highest positive response at 80%.
Need some travel inspiration? Here are the top destinations featured in the most popular and award-winning TV shows that aired last year where you can channel your main character moments this 2023.
Sicily: The White Lotus
According to Google Trends data, U.S. searches for Sicily roughly doubled between late October and early December, thanks to the second season of HBO's The White Lotus, which was filmed on the rugged island in the Italian region. The Golden Globe award-winning series follows the guests and employees of the fictional White Lotus resort chain whose stay is affected by their various psychosocial dysfunctions. Interest in Sicily has spiked since the show's second season aired from October to December 2022.
Italian holidays to Sicilian destinations such as Taormina and Noto are on the rise, with themed itineraries built around the series. For those who want to stay in the real hotel, The White Lotus was actually filmed in the San Domenico Palace Hotel, a former 14th-century monastery converted into a resort operated by Four Seasons.
Other filming locations include Castello degli Schiavi (where The Godfather-themed tours are actually held), the Noto Cathedral, and a 17th-century monastery called the Villa Elena, which stands in as the palazzo owned by Tom Hollander’s character, Quentin in the series.
Hawaii, the setting for the first season of The White Lotus which aired in July 2021, has also seen renewed interest from travelers. In real life, the hotel used in the first season is the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea.
Spain (House of the Dragon)
Majority of House of the Dragon, particularly scenes of sun-soaked King's Landing, were filmed once again on the streets of Spain. The series, which dropped on HBO in August 2022, was filmed in similar locations used in Game of Thrones, which ran from April 2011 to May 2019.
Situated in a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Extremadura, the Old Town of Cáceres serves as the main filming location for King's Landing. It's expecting a tourism boost for post-pandemic trips thanks to GoT's fanbase known as "Thronies." Other filming locations in Spain include the Santa Clotilde Gardens and the medieval castle Castillo de La Calahorra, which serves as the ancestral seat of House Targaryen. Trujillo, home to a number of medieval and renaissance buildings also returned to the screen.
HOTD also reportedly filmed scenes in Cornwall, including Holywell Beach, which stood in for the Stepstones, a chain of islands that link Westeros and Essos; and Kynance Cove, which was featured in the season’s first big battle sequence as a battle camp.
New Zealand (The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power)
After being featured in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings Trilogy from 2001-2003 and The Hobbit trilogy from 2012-2014, New Zealand’s stunning landscapes are captivating fans around the world once again after the first season of The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power, the fantasy series aired on Amazon Prime Video last September 2022.
While some scenes were filmed indoors in studios in Auckland, over a hundred real New Zealand filming locations helped bring the landscapes of MIddle-Earth to life. Scenes from the epic fantasy series were shot all over Auckland, Haukari, Piha, Fjordland National Park, the Coromandel Peninsula, Hauraki Gulf, and more. The massive limestone cliffs at Denize Bluffs served as the backdrop for Harfoot territory, while Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (home to some of NZ's tallest peaks), houses the majestic Minarets and the Tasman glacier in The Rings of Power.
Tourists can also explore the rolling green hills and spend the day walking around the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata or travel further to the South Island to hike with a view of Queenstown’s snowy jagged mountain peaks known as the Remarkables.
Paris (Emily in Paris)
Want to step into the shoes of Emily Cooper, the young American played by Lily Collins in Netflix's hit series? Paris remains top of mind for travelers this year, with the release of the third season of Emily in Paris last month. The romantic comedy-drama landed in Netflix’s Top 10 in 93 countries when it dropped last December 2022.
The third season features many of the iconic Parisian landmarks featured in previous seasons, such as the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Pont de Bercy, Canal Saint-Martin, and Palais Garnier, which first-time travelers will want to add to their itinerary.
In case you want to recreate scenes from the show, the facade of Emily's apartment can be spotted in the quaint square called Place de l’Estrapade with a little park and fountain, while Gabriel's Restaurant (Les Deux Compères) is an actual Italian restaurant called Terra Nera located at 18 Rue des Fosses Saint-Jacques, which came up with a special Emily in Paris menu to ride on the show's popularity.
London and Bath (Bridgerton)
Who wouldn't want to visit stunning mansions, walk around beautifully landscaped gardens, ride a horse-drawn carriage, and enjoy high tea after watching the Regency era series Bridgerton? The second season, which aired on March 2022, focused on the love story of eldest sibling Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) with Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) and fueled viewer’s wanderlust for the Old London town.
The charming wisteria-covered Bridgerton family mansion is actually an art museum known as Ranger’s House in Greenwich, southeast London. Tourists can visit to admire the world-class art collection of ancient sculptures, jewelry, and tapestries in the property managed by English Heritage.
Despite being set in London, many of the scenes of Bridgerton were filmed in Bath, a city in Somerset in England, west of London, known for having beautiful Georgian architecture. Tourists can actually go on Bridgerton tours to visit the mansions featured in the series.
Bath’s Holbourne Museum, which is open to the public, stands in as Lady Danbury's home. You can also see the residences of the Featheringtons, the Modiste dress shop, Gunter's tea shop, and more. Real-life locations in the UK countryside are also featured heavily in the series, including Wrotham Park in Hertfordshire and Wycombe Park in Buckinghamshire, which doubled for the Royal Ascot polo ground for Anthony and Kate.
Japan (Alice in Borderland)
Not a fan of fantasy, period dramas, or romantic shows? Japan is always a good idea for tourists who want something a bit more futuristic. The second season of dystopian series Alice in Borderland set in post-apocalyptic Tokyo finally dropped on December 2022, and you can visit many of the locations shown in the series that exist in real life.
Since Shibuya Crossing is one of the busiest crosswalks in the world, the iconic deserted scene there (and other crowded areas) was recreated mainly on green screen. However, majority of the second season was reportedly filmed in the Greater Tokyo Area in Kanto, including the now-closed Toshimaen amusement park in Nerima, Odaiba, Kabukicho, and Rainbow Bridge. Key scenes were also reportedly filmed in the cities of Wakayama and Osaka as well as Toyama and Aichi in the Chūbu region, best known for its coastlines and scenic mountain ranges.
South Korea (Extraordinary Attorney Woo)
There’s no doubt that watching K-dramas has fueled travelers' wanderlust for South Korea. Extraordinary Attorney Woo, one of the breakout shows last year, features many locations around Seoul as well as Jeju Island (which Filipinos can enter visa-free).
Start your day sightseeing with freshly made kimbap at Kajaguruma, a real neighborhood restaurant that Attorney Woo's father runs on the show. The second floor of the restaurant also appears as the Woo family home, as seen in the episode where Lee Jun Ho (Kang Tae-oh) walks Woo Young-Woo (Park Eun-Bin) home.
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Following the success of the K-drama, the 500-year old hackberry tree, located at Dongbu Village in the southern city of Changwon, has become highly sought after by tourists, with residents of the formerly sleepy rural village reportedly seeing a sudden spike of interest in the spot. As reported by Deadline, the Cultural Heritage Administration of South Korea intends to designate the tree as a Natural Monument.
While on Jeju Island, the Hanbada team visited a place called Hwangjisa Temple. In real life, it's called the Gwaneumsa Temple and is home to the 23rd parish of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.
Another location to visit on Jeju Island is the Saeseom Island Saeyeongo Bridge, the longest pedestrian overpass that connects Seogwipo Port to Saeseom. The sail-like tower lights up at night, which makes it the perfect backdrop for sightseeing shots and selfies.