no hobbits in New Zealand.
Nor are there the mountains of Mordor. That didn’t stop Lord of the Rings fans traipsing across rural New Zealand to visit
scenes from the film trilogy. ‘Tolkein tourism’, as it has been coined, was attributed
by many to have been behind a huge jump in
New Zealand visitor numbers, from 1.7
million in 2000 to 2.4 million in 2006. "You can argue that Lord of the
was the best unpaid advertisement that New
Zealand has ever had" according to Bruce Lahood, United States and Canadian regional manager for Tourism New Zealand.
Visit Scotland is now
hoping that movie magic will boost both tourism and inward investment off the
back of flame-haired animated heroine, Merida, star of Brave. Produced by Hollywood mega studio Disney/Pixar (Toy Story, Cars) the Scottish government
estimates the tale of a feisty Highland
princess – due to be screened in 72 countries - could boost the Scottish
economy by £140m.
First Minister Alex Salmond attended the premiere at the Los Angeles Film
Festival, using his visit to focus on innovation, tourism and jobs, while
as a "land of major opportunity" for investment. Visit Scotland has launched
its largest-ever global advertising campaign to coincide with the release of
the animation, spending £7m on the project, including a TV and cinema advert which will
be seen by around 80 million people. So, is it worth it? I was one of a number
of trade journalists lucky enough to see it ahead of its general release at the
Edinburgh Film Festival.
The tale itself is a sweet one. No prissy, perfect ‘Disney princess’ here. Scotland’s Merida
is feisty and a dab hand with a bow and arrow (her unruly red curls, do,
unfortunately, lead to comparisons with a certain Rebekah Brooks; however Merida, though headstrong,
does remain the goodie in this story). Voiced by local stars Robbie Coltrane,
Billy Connolly and Kelly Macdonald, the Scottish burr might cause some trouble to untrained ears,
but with its sweeping vistas, mountains and castles, Brave evokes an epic, wild and
beautiful landscape in all its 3D animated glory. Now the kicker, I guess, is
to get people to come and see the real thing.
It’s a, ahem,
brave move by Visit Scotland but one that fits well into its ‘Creative Scotland’
marketing plan for the year. The Scots aren’t short on creative ways to get
more business – Glasgow for one, with its Glasgow Model of risk sharing, is a
city that seems to really ‘get’ the idea of across-the-board destination
marketing when it comes to events. The rest of our ‘Creative Scotland’ press
trip took in a number of exciting developments for business tourism. The new
Hydro arena at the SECC, another Norman Foster masterpiece, will take pride of
place in a cluster of modern design architecture on the Clyde, downriver from the
Zaha Hadid-designed Museum
of Transport. Meanwhile, hotel Crieff
oldest registered company at 140 years, has seen a new lease of life thanks to
a £40m investment. The new V&A at Dundee is
set to play a vital role in that city’s ambitious regeneration plans, as well as
proving a hub for design innovation.
with Hollywood bigwigs seems a pretty canny idea, Scotland. Let’s see if the cartoon
castles can convert the travelling masses.