Following on from my series of articles that took travel inspiration from TV series, I am now looking at some films that are inspiring me (and many others) to travel. There is such a thing as 'film tourism'. It's not surprising that the locations featured in major motion pictures usually receive a big influx of tourism.
People want to see the amazing filming locations featured in their favourite movies in person. According to a study published in the International Journal of Tourism Research films can:
"... present millions of viewers with substantial information about a destination, create firrst-time image or alter an existing image in a relatively short period of time."
Extremely well-known and worshipped film franchises such as Star Wars can instantly boost tourism in the destinations that are chosen for filming big scenes. Previous Star Wars films have been shot in all sorts of places around the world including, Lake Como, Tunisia, Sicily, Morocco, Norway, Switzerland, Thailand and the UK.
The next Star Wars film is due to be released on 17th December in the UK, and boy does it feature some awesome destinations around the world. Some of the key destinations featured in the film include Abu Dhabi, Iceland, New Mexico, California, Ireland and the UK. I would particularly like to visit Abu Dhabi and also go back to Iceland. Find out why I want to visit these two destinations from 'The Force Awakens.'
Abu Dhabi replaced Tunisia as the chosen location to film scenes in remote sand dunes. Rumour has it, being featured in the film has already given the Emirate $60 million worth of publicity. The trailers for the new film both open with shots of in Abu Dhabi, highlighting its prominent part in the movie.
The location of where scenes were filmed is around two hours outside of Abu Dhabi city in the Rub al Khali desert. It's the largest contiguous sand desert in the world and it crosses over four Arab nations.
The vast desert with its enormous sand dunes and remote location is perfect for Star Wars. They certainly didn't run out of room to stage inter-galactic battles. They reportedly create a whole world out in the desert purely for the purposes of the film, and crashed fighters somewhere in the dunes.
Aside from now being a major movie set location, these dunes are used for a variety of different purposes. They are great for motor sport enthusiasts. Here you can go desert sailing, camel riding and dune bashing, all of which I would love to do. I have been dune bashing in Dubai and it was nerve wracking but great fun.
Abu Dhabi has been featured in other big films and TV shows lately, including Fast and Furious 7, and a series of Top Gear. I like to think of Abu Dhabi as slightly more cultured and less glamorous than its neighbour, Dubai. Considering the city was a humble fishing village only 50 years ago, it's astonishing to discover how far it has come.
Now it is a 21st century city filled with dazzling skyscrapers, but it still retains its Middle Eastern character. As soon as you enter the city you will notice the fascinating blend of East meets West. The city has numerous lush green spaces, gorgeous beaches and high end restaurants and shop.
There's some awesome things to see and do in Abu Dhabi too, including Ferrari World theme park, The Landmark building and Yas island. Then of course there's the adrenaline fuelled desert activities in the Rhub al Khali desert, where scenes for the new Star Wars film were shot.
I am lucky enough to have visited Iceland, and I can certainly see why it has been chosen as a location for The Force Awakens. As the Telegraph puts it Iceland 'is where the intergalactic is right at home'. The first thing I thought when I peered out the window whilst flying over Iceland was that it looks like another planet. It feels as though you are landing on Mars, because the ground is very rocky and it's filled with lava plains.
However, once you get the chance to explore Iceland, you will see it's so much more than just a rocky wilderness. There are some of the most visually stunning waterfalls I have ever seen, huge craters that you can walk across and geysers that let off explosions of water and steam. My fondest memory in Iceland was being able to walk and stand underneath a mighty waterfall, it was the most amazing feeling.
It's thanks to its unique landscapes and stunning natural beauty that Iceland has featured in numerous blockbusters, including Interstellar and Prometheus. Now the new Star Wars film reportedly features the Myvatn lake and the Krafla volcano.
Lake Myvatn is a serene lake located in the North of Iceland, not too far from Krafla volcano. The landscape here is very varied, from lava fields and desolate craters to caves and mud pools. There are wooded walking trails you can go on and the wetlands near the lake are home to a variety of waterbirds, including lots of ducks.
It's said to be a very calming place, with striking views of the surrounding landscape, especially from the thermal baths, which are considered the North's version of the Blue Lagoon. Also not too far from the lake you will find cascading waterfalls, one of which (Dettifoss) is the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
Around 14 miles away is Krafla volcano, which has had 29 reported eruptions in recorded history. The last one was between 1978 and 1984. The volcano is 2 kilometres in depth and around 818 metres at its highest peak. It's one of the most impressive and active volcanoes in Iceland.
When you get up to the top after the short hike. It feels as though you have set foot in another world, which is why this particular spot is ideal for shooting Star Wars scenes. There are colourful rocks, steam bursts out of the ground and the lava fields cover the land. Within the explosion made crater, there is a bright blue pool.
The force awakes in me
I am very much looking forward to the release of the new film, and seeing these destinations showcased in key scenes. Discovering about destinations you haven't been to in films is a great way of finding inspiration for your travels. That's why I will be writing about amazing destinations that are featured in some of the biggest films in 2016. Watch this space.