It seems that our streaming habits are now influencing our travel habits—it’s increasingly the case that once a place has been featured in a hit TV show, it’s followed by a big boost in travel.
Take Squid Game. If you’ve watched an episode of the wildly popular Netflix series and then looked into taking a holiday to South Korea, you wouldn’t be alone. Demand has increased so much that major cities across the country are now offering stays based on the game and during the summer, Seoul erected a giant replica of the scary doll from the show to attract the crowds.
Whether it’s the colonial locations of The Crown or St Petersburg from Hulu’s The Great, people are increasingly traveling to destinations they’ve watched their favorite characters inhabit—and it’s a trend that appears to continue well beyond the life of the series. Breaking Bad finished filming in 2013 but the city of Albuquerque is still running guided RV tours and tourists can buy fake crystal meth in one local sweet shop.
And some cities are trying to capitalize on the success of favorite shows by improving opportunities for tourism with other countries. For example, the Oscar-winning South African documentary My Octopus Teacher has tempted people to visit and Chull-joo Park, ambassador of the Republic of Korea in South Africa has been talking about enhancing the tourist links between the two countries, on the basis of the successes of Squid Game and My Octopus Teacher—because just a small spike in tourism can have a big economic impact.
Park says, “if South Africa and South Korea could attract just 1% of the number of outbound travellers each country had in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, that would mean 280,000 Korean tourists for South Africa and 60,000 South African tourists for Korea each year.”
Cookery shows encourage travel too. Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown (first shown on CNN) spent 12 seasons discovering the planet’s best food—and one Reddit user has even published a map for all Bourdain’s foodie fans of every destination featured so that everyone can now visit too.