OPINION: Could Bundaberg benefit from movie tourism?
MOVIE tourism rakes in big dollars, so why not consider the Bundaberg region as a key player as more Hollywood films come to Queensland?
It's been confirmed that the third Thor movie, Ragnarok, will be filmed entirely in Queensland, with production starting in January and filming in June next year.
It kind of got me thinking... wouldn't Bundaberg make a pretty good movie location?
Couldn't we find a highly viable and fresh new industry in movies and tourism?
Our region is no stranger to being a backdrop for flicks.
The Delinquents was partly shot here in 1989 and 1977's The Mango Tree was filmed in Bundy, Gin Gin, Cordalba and Mt Perry.
The idea could sound like one of those pie-in-the-sky thoughts that never moves any further than an idealistic thought... but movies, which equal tourism, equal dollars which is what we need.
Beaches. Plains. Lots and lots of space.
We have the natural surrounds, capable of rivaling any location in the world.
And when it comes to films, it's all about location.
New Zealand rakes in about $27m a year from Lord of the Rings tourism.
Then there's the reboot of TV series Hawaii Five-O, which has been a financial shot in the arm for Hawaii.
The series is not only providing Hawaii with a nice little boost to its bank balance (to the tune of about $400 million in 2010 alone) but is also promoting the region as a tourist destination.
Using a place as a setting for movies and TV shows brings in so many benefits.
Done intelligently, movie tourism is something our governments could really latch on to.
A 2013 CNN article talks of how tourism boards and policy makers are now working more closely with movie makers to plan tourism campaigns around films while they're in their infancy, as opposed to latching on to their box office success once they're made.
This makes a lot of sense.
Product placement is nothing new - how many iPhones and cans of Coke have we seen in movies?
It makes sense to "product place" places.
The much-maligned but monumentally successful Twlight series did wonders for the little town of Forks, Washington, which has raked in hundreds of thousands since the series hit screens across the globe.
Souvenir shops and Twilight tours have made the otherwise unknown town a top location for Twilight lovers the world over.
Forks has a population of about 3500 people, that's roughly twice the population of Gin Gin.
Sure someday the Twilight thrills may ware off, but it's an excellent case study of how a small town can land on a global map with a little bit of movie love.
Movie tourism stats speak for themselves - visitor numbers increased by 300% for Scotland's Wallace Monument after the filming of Braveheart.
The Crown Hotel in Amersham, England, was fully booked for three whole years after Four Weddings and a Funeral.
A little closer to home, Sydney Harbour National Park in Sydney enjoyed 200% more visitors in the year 2000 after the filming of Mission Impossible 2.
Tourism is a driver for economic progress.
Tourists spend billions in Australia, more than half share their experiences online - imagine, with the power of social media and Twitter, if they were also tweeting about movie locations they had visited.
Additionally, lucrative partnerships with airlines and other relevant companies could add to the windfall.
Tourism wouldn't all have to be international either, there's a good chance our region would benefit from domestic tourism which contributes a significant chunk of overall tourism income.
Tourism is also an employer - with hundreds of thousands of jobs being provided thanks to the industry.
What could that all mean for the Bundaberg region?
It may seem like something that's a little up in the air, and no doubt a lot of research would have to go into the viability, but why not consider it as a long-term plan to ensure we continue to prosper in addition to our current industries?
Just a thought.