You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Is Tourism a Side Benefit of Movie, TV Tax Incentives?

West Monroe, La., may not be drawing the jet set, but it’s easy to see what visitors to the small town are looking for: “Duck Dynasty.”

The reality show’s popularity was cited in a recent report, sponsored by the MPAA and state film boosters, which argued that valuable movie- and TV show-inspired tourism is an important side benefit of government film tax incentives.

Anecdotal evidence is one thing; quantifying it is another.

The study, prepared by HR&A Advisors, says that tourism spending connected to movies and TV shows supported 22,720 jobs and up to $766.6 million in personal income in the state. The figures were calculated based on the results of an online survey of 1,381 recent visitors to Louisiana, showing that 14.5% of tourists said they were “induced” to visit by movies and TV shows filmed there.

Those results were almost immediately challenged by the public interest group Louisiana Budget Project, which called the report deeply flawed and said that “a typical viewer of a typical Louisiana-based production doesn’t even know they’re watching a Louisiana movie.”

The numbers are likely to be the source of continued debate as states weigh renewing or expanding their tax incentive programs.

“That is the big question,” says Stefan Roesch, film tourism consultant and author of the book “The Experiences of Film Location Tourists.” “I think it is pretty difficult, from a market-research point of view, to define who a ‘film-induced’ tourist actually is.”

Some tourists may want to just visit a location, he says, while others may want more than that. When Roesch went to Tunisia to see locations where George Lucas shot Luke Skywalker’s home planet for “Star Wars,” some of those traveling with him played the movie’s theme. One wore a Jedi robe and told him, “I was living that moment. I was Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

Generally, though, it’s not easy to determine the exact impulses responsible for vacation objectives, Roesch says. “How do you quantify the influence of a film (on) travel to a wider destination? What do you say (it’s worth)? 50%? 30%?”

It’s even difficult to extrapolate the effect of perhaps the most popular movie-inspired travel site — what Roesch calls the “mother lode” of film-driven tourism: New Zealand, the target of those ostensibly attracted by “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

The nation’s international-arrivals figures did experience an increase after the first picture was released, but Roesch notes that those numbers had been rising before that.

That isn’t to say location filming has little or no impact on tourism. The MPAA’s Vans Stevenson cites Southern California as a prime example. No one questions the fact that Hollywood is one of the world’s major tourist destinations.

Unfortunately for the MPAA, a report released last month by Louisiana state economic development officials didn’t account for any of the economic benefit from tourism, instead concentrating on the return that productions bring back to state tax coffers only. The conclusion was far less rosy: Just 23¢ from each dollar of tax credit comes back in the form of state taxes.

And yet, someone is making some money from “Duck Dynasty”-inspired visitors. Otherwise there probably wouldn’t be the Duck Commander Hometown Tour.

More Artisans

  • Chile's Production Incentives Include New 30%

    Chile Incentives Pilot Program Aims to Draw Producers With 30% Rebate

    With over 2,500 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline, the long and narrow South American country of Chile encompasses a remarkable variety of weather patterns and landscapes. Filmmakers traveling there will discover that the Chilean Economic Development Agency in alliance with nation’s film commission recently launched what it calls a Pilot Program for High-Impact Audiovisual Investment [...]

  • Set di "Gomorra 3", regia di

    'My Brilliant Friend,' 'Gomorrah' Show Different Sides of Naples

    When Saverio Costanzo, the director of HBO and RAI’s “My Brilliant Friend,” started to plan how he would depict the grand but gritty city of Naples — one that’s so vivid in the imaginations of millions of Elena Ferrante readers, he quickly decided that the working-class neighborhood at the core of her four Neapolitan novels [...]


    How a Costume Designer Brightened M. Night Shyamalan's 'Glass'

    Paco Delgado’s costumes are as varied as his films. Contrast the drama “The Danish Girl,” the futuristic fantasy “A Wrinkle in Time” and the period musical “Les Misérables.” Now he’s in comic-book territory with M. Night Shyamalan’s newest superhero/supervillain thriller, “Glass,” which Universal releases Jan. 17. The costume designer’s career began in Barcelona and London, [...]

  • Bird Box

    Los Angeles On-Location Feature Filming Surges 12.2% in 2018

    On-location feature filming in Greater Los Angeles expanded impressively in 2018, gaining 12.2% to 4,377 shooting days, according to FilmL.A. Production activity for feature films rose 15.5% to 1,078 shooting days during the fourth quarter, with 146 days coming from projects receiving California tax credits — including Netflix’s “Bird Box,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a [...]


    How Writer-Crew Collaborations Are Changing the Script for the Creative Process

    In traditional filmmaking, once a script is written, the director and department heads break it down and figure out the costs and logistics of production. But if the screenwriter collaborates during the creative process with key crew members, the entire production can benefit.  Such collaboration offers the prospect of help on many fronts. For example, [...]

  • avengers infinity war

    'Avengers,' 'Lost in Space,' 'Ready Player One' Lead Visual Effects Society Nominations

    The Visual Effects Society announced nominees for the organization’s 17th annual awards on Tuesday. Leading the way in the film and TV fields, respectively, were Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and Netflix’s “Lost in Space.” Each picked up six nominations. Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” received the most nominations among animated feature contenders with five. “Ready Player One” [...]

  • Dynasties BBC Vundu Pack

    Bush Guides, Night Cameras Help BBC America’s ‘Dynasties’ Catch Unique Moments

    Just getting to one of the locations of BBC America wildlife documentary series “Dynasties” — presented by David Attenborough and following the lives of endangered animals — requires an 11-hour flight from London to Johannesburg, a two-hour connection to Harare, Zimbabwe, an hourlong chartered Cessna 206 trip to Mana Pools National Park airstrip and an [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content