British tourism eager to cash in on movie magic

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LONDON, Oct 30 (Reuters) Tourist chiefs keen to tempt ''set-jetters'' to Britain launched a campaign to cash in on historic locations featured in the new Cate Blanchett movie ''The Golden Age'' about Tudor Queen Elizabeth I.

Location vacations have proved to be a major tourist draw with visitors flocking to see where the Harry Potter movies and ''The Da Vinci Code'' were made. Britain has set up film tourism offices in Los Angeles and Mumbai.

Tours inspired by movie and TV locations -- known as ''set-jetting'' in the travel business -- are thriving with ''The Lord of the Rings'' trilogy boosting New Zealand tourism and Hawaii promoting Elvis Presley and Indiana Jones sites.

''Set-jetting is a great way of marketing a destination,'' said Tom Wright, chief executive of the national tourism agency VisitBritain yesterday.

''This is a major opportunity for us to remind visitors -- and Americans particularly -- of one of the enduring appeals of our destination,'' he said.

''If the right film is chosen, it acts as free advertising for a destination, location or attraction and is shown to millions of people around the world.'' Forty per cent of potential tourists cite ''jet-setting'' in to see movie locations as a major reason for their visit.

So VisitBritain, cashing in on the launch of the new Elizabethan saga, is running a global campaign promoting hotel, car hire and specialist tour group tie-ins that cover the film's major locations.

Its visitbritain.com/goldenage website takes in a string of Tudor backdrops from Westminster and Winchester cathedrals to a Cambridge University college.

Nearly three quarters of the potential visitors to Britain are likely to visit castles and stately homes, tourist industry research shows.

The top five royal attractions accounted for 4.2 million visits last year, up 11 per cent on the 2005 figure.

In a bid to boost the country's tourist economy, VisitBritain has published a series of movie maps for visitors keen to follow in the footsteps of screen blockbusters.

The tourist industry, milking a valuable new market, even awarded an outstanding achievement ''Oscar'' to Harry Potter as the teenage wizard waved his magic wand over a string of cathedrals, colleges and castles.

Reuters PD DB0924

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