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African countries can really star on the Big Screen

Updated: 2024-05-02 10:23 ( China Daily )
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The fact that Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya's Nakuru County played host to the movies The Lion King and Tomb Raider 2 has made the park famous worldwide. According to Charles Nkaiseri, a tour guide at the park, many of the visitors to the park request to be taken to Pride Rock, the place that inspired the scenery in The Lion King, or to the Ol Jorowa Gorge where most of the tomb scenes were filmed in the Tomb Raider movie.

Elsa Lunani, who is the digital products manager at Multichoice Kenya, a satellite television service, said that since independence, film tourism has proved to be a powerful tool for attracting visitors to various destinations across the continent.

"In Kenya for instance, award-winning international films like The Constant Gardener, To Walk with Lions, Married Bachelor, Out of Africa, Mountains of the Moon, Nowhere in Africa, and The Big Cat Diary shot in the country are among a long list of key success stories," Lunani said.

According to her, physical landscapes like mountains and lakes, wildlife, coastal beaches and Africa's cultural sites can be featured prominently as perfect filming locations for international productions.

"The physical features that attracted these filmmakers into the country not only showcased Kenya as a perfect cinematic location but also significantly marketed the country as a major global tourism destination," Lunani said.

Recently, the Kenya Tourism Board announced that it was now banking on filming as one of the initiatives to increase the number of international travelers in the country. While initially announcing its partnership with the India International Film Tourism Conclave in 2018, the Kenya Tourism Board director of marketing Jacinta Nzioka said the country has what it takes to become a global choice for filmmaking. The India International Film Tourism Conclave is a leading location scout for films developed in India and Asia.

Survey results

Lunani said that a recent survey conducted by US-based imaging brand PhotoAiD pertinently shows how important screen tourism is with 96 percent of respondents saying they have visited places associated with their favorite television shows or movies at least once in their lifetime.

"According to 35 percent of the travelers interviewed, the most common reason to engage in film tourism is to enjoy an immersive experience that lets you live out shows or movies' storylines and follow in the footsteps of famous characters," Lunani said.

Emmanuel Oyier, a communications and advocacy practitioner and co-founder at Seamless Frames video company in Kenya said that film tourism is an excellent vehicle for destination marketing and also creates opportunities for product and community entrepreneur development such as location tours or film heritage museums.

"Film-induced tourism and destination branding are some of the fastest growing sectors in tourism currently. However, there are some key issues that need to be addressed in Africa before promoting our locations for film productions and tourism," Oyier said.

He singled out applying responsible tourism practices, creating a film-friendly environment in advance through community participation and awareness campaigns, safety and understanding the impact of destination branding.


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