What is set-jetting? How TV is changing the way we travel
How much do TV shows and movies influence where we book our next holiday?
Following season two of The White Lotus, which premiered in 2022, a tidal wave of tourists packed out the Sicilian town of Taormina. If you’ve seen the show, you’ll understand why – the backdrop of beaches and quaint cobbled streets is so stunning that it nearly steals the spotlight away from the gripping drama itself. Ahead of the upcoming third season set to film in Thailand, the ‘White Lotus effect’ is showing no signs of slowing down. According to data from Webjet, bookings to Phuket and Bangkok have seen a 37 per cent and 59 per cent increase, respectively.
What is set-jetting?
‘Set-jetting’ is the trend of travelling to a destination or location featured in a television show or movie. There’s even an example of this in The White Lotus when the Di Grasso family tour the locations in The Godfather (adding a very meta layer to the travel trend). While the big and small screens have been an ample source of wanderlust lately, the concept is by no means a new one.
For instance, The Lord of the Rings trilogy spawned ‘Tolkien tourism’, a travel trend largely credited with driving the number of international visitors to New Zealand up by 40 per cent between 2000 and 2006. In 2018, one in six visitors to Northern Ireland cited Game of Thrones as their reason for travelling there, and the series was also responsible for sending nearly a quarter of a million tourists flocking to Dubrovnik in Croatia between 2012 and 2015.
Why do we set jet?
In a way, the reason behind the phenomenon of set-jetting seems obvious – we become aware of a beautiful destination and want to visit it. But there are a few other factors at play. The language of cinema is a powerful tool for communicating the image of a place, often in a way that is exaggerated, distorted or enhanced. Our idea of a destination is inflected by the storyline, characters and mood, which gives us a solid sense of a destination – before we’ve even been. Often, this transforms into a desire to see a place, for real.
Movies and TV have always been a major source of influence over where we choose to spend our holidays. Here are some of the destinations hot on our radar for 2024.
1. Thailand (The White Lotus)
The jury’s still out on where the upcoming third season will be filmed (however, The Four Seasons Koh Samui blocking out two months of their booking calendar has us side-eyeing!). If the surge in Sicilian sunseekers post-season two is anything to go by, audiences will be eager to experience life in the ‘Blossom Circle’ in the tropics of Thailand. And with a surge in bookings, reported by Webjet, it looks like the trend has already been kickstarted.
2. Paris (Emily in Paris)
Paris is an ever-popular tourist destination, but the Netflix show Emily in Paris has made the City of Love a fixture on screens around the globe. Although you’ll find tourists everywhere in the city, Emily in Paris can be credited for putting an oft-overlooked neighbourhood on the map. The Latin Quarter is where the fictional Emily Cooper lives, dines and flirts (with her neighbour, a handsome French chef named Gabriel). In 2023, the neighbourhood saw an influx of tourists keen to get a glimpse of the scenery from the show. And with a heavily anticipated fourth season on its way, it looks like our wanderlust for Paris isn’t going anywhere.
3. New York City (Sex and the City/And Just Like That)
In 1998, Carrie Bradshaw sauntered onto our screens (in Manolo’s, of course) to regale viewers with stories from the lives of four friends living in NYC. The series wouldn’t be the same without the iconic backdrop of New York – so much so that the city can almost be considered an unofficial fifth cast member. With season two of the reboot And Just Like That hitting our screens this year and a third season upcoming, The Big Apple is well and truly on our radar.
4. Los Angeles (Barbie)
Ever since those photos circulated of Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling rollerblading down Venice Beach, Barbiemania has taken over the world. And the film’s setting, Los Angeles, is at the centre of it all. Barbie’s dreamhouse is famously located in the Malibu Hills, and although it’s unfortunately no longer possible to visit, we’ve compiled a guide on how to unleash your inner Barbie in the toy’s notorious Malibu stomping ground.