The United Arab Emirates (UAE
With the announcement that Denis Villeneuve’s Dune sequel will film in Abu Dhabi later in 2022, tourism across the country is set to further increase with the emirate of Dubai recently being named as the world’s most popular tourist destination for 2022 through Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards.
Characterizing the city, the travel platform wrote: “Dubai is a destination that mixes modern culture with history, adventure with world-class shopping and entertainment. Catch a show at the Dubai Opera, see downtown from atop the Burj Khalifa and spend an afternoon along Dubai Creek exploring the gold, textile and spice souks.”
“If you’re looking for thrills, you can float above the desert dunes in a hot air balloon, climb aboard a high-speed ride at IMG Worlds of Adventure or skydive over the Palm Jumeirah.”
Not coincidentally, many of these elements have been viewed across productions over the years with Tom Cruise for example famously scaling the Burj Khalifa in Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol.
Publicly available data indicates that a popular movie can increase tourism to a featured destination by just over 30%. With a specific location, the numbers tallied even higher with tourism numbers increasing to up to 300% when visiting a specific landmark.
There are many examples of statistical improvements in tourism numbers due to high-grossing projects. Harry Potter helped see a 50% increase on average to all filming locations with some places from the film seeing four times that. Braveheart, starring Mel Gibson, aided in the Wallace Monument in Scotland seeing a 300% increase in tourism, and even Frozen helped generate an extra 37% increase in tourism to Norway.
Speaking on the importance of film tourism, Enzo Savio Cusumano, founder of travel company All in One City said, “Dubai, and the UAE, certainly can be a hub for film and TV tourism. I think that for that to happen however there needs to be more outreach to the public on what is filming here and where.”
He continued, “With Mission Impossible it was obvious. I mean, he was scaling the Burj [Khalifa] so it wasn’t hard to identify that it was Dubai but outside of noteworthy landmarks it may be hard for audiences to tell. Since people statistically factor in popular culture to their travel decisions that marketing becomes key to attracting more people in my opinion.”
Numbers validated Cusomano’s claims through a 2017 Statista report. The survey asked participants in the United Kingdom “if they had ever visited a film or TV location whilst on holiday/vacation abroad and how much this influenced (or would influence) their decision to travel to a specific destination.”
Out of the respondents, 39 per cent said they had visited a film/TV location whilst on holiday abroad. 7 per cent said it was the main reason for their visit. Considering the size of the global tourism industry the numbers are quite staggering.
“If the UAE can continue to attract big-name productions it will certainly be an important driver in people’s choices of where to go. Dubai alone is already incredibly popular but the sky is the limit to how far that popularity can go,” Cusomano said.
He concluded, “Setting up a travel company in Dubai we of course want as many reasons as possible for people to choose to come here. There is already so many, and so much growth currently, I think film is another portal for the country to truly sink its teeth into.”
On Dune shooting in the UAE, chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi and twofour54 Abu Dhabi, Mohamed Khalifa Al-Mubarak, said in a released statement, “Dune has again provided us with an exciting opportunity to associate the emirate with another global movie franchise which will allow us to entice enthusiastic fans and audience members to visit the landscapes which they have seen on screen.”
“In Abu Dhabi, we are fortunate to offer incredible architecture, landscapes and a unique culture that brings magic to the big screen. We hope that audiences around the world will get the chance to discover a whole new world in the Liwa desert,”
“We look forward to returning to the majestic sand dunes of Abu Dhabi and bringing Arrakis to life for ‘Dune: Part Two,’” Villeneuve added in a statement. Production on the film has just started with Timothée Chalamet returning as well as Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, and Javier Bardem. Austin Butler, Christopher Walken, Florence Pugh, Léa Seydoux and Souheila Yacoub are some of the new cast additions.