Having work experience both in tourism sector and national cinematography I simply cannot indifferently observe the fact that my native country Lithuania (no jokes that to spell its name takes longer than to cook noodles according to one ad, please!) is invisible and unfortunately does not exist in world movie locations map. In movie-locations.com you can just find short note “Lithuania: no films currently listed”. But it is getting hard to ignore two main ways the country could use improving tourism and reaching benefits for it from film locations.
Recently BBC is celebrating worldwide the premiere of TV series “War & Peace”, epic adaptation of famous L.Tolstoy novel. Many of shooting locations were set in Lithuanian towns. “Daily Telegraph”, “Daily Mail”, “The LT Tribune”, “Financial Times”, “Trip Adviser” are just a few of media channels announcing that Vilnius is worth visiting for the live spirit of “War & Peace” you can find there. Travel writer John Gimlette went beyond the scenes of TV series in Lithuania himself and found that Vilnius is so breath-taking that even does not need any decorations for looking like a film set. So “War & Peace” proves that Lithuania as undiscovered (or discovered not enough) tourism destination can benefit from integrating film locations into tourism. It undoubtedly helps to raise awareness of the country and guaranties huge (and free) international publicity.
There were more than 6 million TV spectators of “War & Peace”. Now you can only guess how many of them could choose Lithuania for a visit. According to Rolandas Kvietkauskas, director of LithuanianNational Film Center, 2015 saw the highest number of foreign productions come to Lithuania – LFC issued 17 qualification certificates for film productions or co-productions in the country. It demonstrates the potential of the Lithuanian film industry as well as the effectiveness of the incentive scheme. Some of the films shot in our country have already been released internationally, and have been nominated or awarded at festivals. So Lithuania really has a potential for film locations based tourism, and that could attract bigger tourist flows and provide for them new tourism product.
If Lithuania wants to follow the successful example of Croatia, which became insanely famous as filming set of “Game of Thrones”, it must
*become visible in world film locations map;
*wisely use the publicity famous movies (and actors) provide;
*integrate film locations into tourism (for instance, prepare film locations guide, go viral, etc.).
Author Gerda.But is journalist, public relations consultant, former specialist of Cinema Department in Ministry of Culture (LT) and State Department of Tourism (LT).