Regardless of the outcome of Scotland's highly publicized referendum on September 18th, it will still be lights, camera, action in the highlands on the set of the new STARZ series Outlander. A second season has officially been greenlighted by the network, and the show's immense success is giving tourism officials reason to anticipate that the record-breaking number of viewers who are tuning in every week will eventually turn into dollar signs for the country.
Outlander's premier episode surpassed 5 million viewers in its first week and viewers are continuing to tune in week after week. The show's positive reviews come at an exciting, yet uneasy time for the country, as it's been speculated that Scotland's tourism industry could initially suffer if the majority of Scottish referendum voters cast their ballots in favor of independence.
To capitalize on Outlander's success, VisitScotland has created an itinerary that will highlight actual locations referenced in the best-selling series of books by Diana Gabaldon, as well as following the adventures of the show's main characters on sightseeing adventures through the city of Edinburgh, on tours through local whisky distilleries, and trips to iconic castle ruins. VisitScotland is also promoting this tour as a chance for travelers to trace their ancestry as they delve deeper into the country's history, as they're given the opportunity to explore Loch Ness, venture through Edinburgh's Royal Mile and get an insider's look at filming locations in other cities like Glasgow and Inverness.
This won't be the first time Scotland has fostered a lucrative partnership with TV/Movie producers; after teaming up with Disney-Pixar in 2012 for the movie, Brave, VisitScotland saw an influx of Americans traveling to the country. It has been reported that approximately one fifth of visitors who travel to Scotland were inspired to visit the country after seeing it on television or on film, which creates a promising business model for lucrative partnerships between tourism boards and TV and film producers.
Scotland isn't the first destination to cash in on traveler's desires to see the inspiration for the settings of their favorite films, movies and books. Even though one of Tolkien's best-selling novels turned 60 earlier this year, New Zealand is still reaping the tourism benefits of the immense popularity of the Lord of the Rings franchise. At the close of the first quarter of 2014, tourism in Norway had also skyrocketed due to the success of Disney's Frozen. And who could forget the significant impact everyone's favorite boy wizard has had on the travel industry?
It is the hope of tourism officials everywhere that by providing unique travel initiatives that combine both the fictional allure of their destinations with local history and vibrant cultural offerings that will leave travelers feeling enlightened and inspired, and ultimately contributing to the destination's bottom line.