From White Lotus to Wednesday, how set-jetting is determining travel destinations for 2023

Around the world, set-jetting is bringing record visitor numbers to everywhere from the jungles of Peru to the countryside of Northern Ireland.
Around the world, set-jetting is bringing record visitor numbers to everywhere from the jungles of Peru to the countryside of Northern Ireland. Copyright Nick Karvounis
By Rebecca Ann Hughes
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Around the world, set-jetting is bringing record visitor numbers to everywhere from the jungles of Peru to the countryside of Northern Ireland.

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The hilltop town of Taormina in Sicily has always been a summer hotspot, but this year many of its hotels are already at full capacity for the season.

The tourism bonanza is thanks to the glamorous HBO thriller ‘The White Lotus’, whose second season is set on the Italian island (specifically in the Four Seasons’ San Domenico Palace).

Fans have used the show as holiday inspiration - a practice which has been dubbed ‘set-jetting’.

And Sicily isn’t the only destination affected by the trend.

Around the world, set-jetting is bringing record visitor numbers to everywhere from the jungles of Peru to the countryside of Northern Ireland.

What is set-jetting?

Set-jetting is a term that has been coined for holidays based on the shooting locations of films or TV series.

It is having a powerful effect on bookings this year, according to travel search engine Expedia.

The site’s travel trends report for 2023 found that streamed movies and TV shows are now the top sources of travel inspiration at 44 per cent, far outpacing the influence of social media at 15 per cent.

In the UK, 46 per cent of travellers surveyed considered visiting a destination after seeing it on a show or film on a streaming platform, and 36 per cent have already booked trips.

Travelling to the shooting locations of films and TV shows is not new - New Zealand has been drawing ‘Lord of the Rings’ fans since the early 2000s.

But a combination of pandemic binge-watching, lifted travel restrictions and spectacular settings have supercharged wanderlust.

How is set-jetting affecting tourism destinations?

Hotels inTaormina and other Sicilian towns are expecting record visitor numbers this summer.

Most accommodation in Taormina already has limited availability or is full.

Paris, too, will be crowded this year thanks to its romanticised portrayal in ‘Emily in Paris’, as will Lake Como in northern Italy which was the backdrop for dramatic scenes in ‘Succession’.

Mick Tinbergen
Hotels in Taormina and other Sicilian towns are expecting record visitor numbers this summer.Mick Tinbergen

TV wanderlust is also directing travellers to locations less likely to be on their bucket list.

Dashing Regency-era drama ‘Bridgerton’ shone a spotlight on England’s period houses.

One setting was Hampton Court Palace, once the home of King Henry VIII, in the London Borough of Richmond. The Grade I listed building is a majestic mix of Tudor and Baroque architecture with 60 acres of manicured gardens.

Supernatural comedy ‘Wednesday’ led to an uptick in tourism in Romania. Scenes were filmed in the Buftea studios just outside the capital Bucharest, where fans can tour the sets.

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Other attractions in the country also featured in the series. The royal train station in Sinaia, and the Politehnica University and Monteoru House in the capital have all seen increased visitor numbers - in particular of young people.

Martin McDonagh’s Oscar nominated ‘Banshees of Inisherin’ is also drawing visitors to the ethereal, windswept islands off the coast of Ireland. The black tragicomedy was filmed on Galway’s Inis Mór and County Mayo’s Achill Island.

Set-jetting is inspiring TV-based tours

Tourist boards, hotels and tour operators have been quick to respond to the sudden fame of their destinations.

Lithuania was the filming location of detective series ‘Young Wallander’ (as well as Netflix hit drama ‘Stranger Things’) and the capital city of Vilnius has launched a new walking route to the locations where it was shot.

Thomas Hetzler
New Zealand is welcoming a renewed wave of film fans thanks to Amazon Prime’s offshoot of ‘Lord of the Rings’ and is updating its experiences to match.Thomas Hetzler

The tour includes the pastel-coloured houses and cobbled streets of the Old Town, the famed Lukiškės Prison and the striking 1970s architecture of the Šeškinė district.

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In Northern Ireland, tour operators offer visits to the Belfast studios where ‘Game of Thrones’ was filmed. They also take visitors to Tollymore Forest Park that became Winterfell in the series and the Cushendun Caves portrayed as Stormlands.

New Zealand is welcoming a renewed wave of film fans thanks to Amazon Prime’s offshoot of ‘Lord of the Rings’ and is updating its experiences to match.

By the end of the year, visitors to permanent movie set Hobbiton will be able to see inside a Hobbit house while travellers to Christchurch can follow a self-guided tour of filming locations.

Luxury travel companies are cashing in with immersive set-jetting experiences

Some tour companies are also cashing in on the set-jetting trend with extravagant experiences at an equally exaggerated price tag.

Luxury travel company Black Tomato has dubbed its version of set-jetting ‘storification’ and has seen a 30 per cent increase in enquiries recently.

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courtesy of James Bond Indicia © 1962-2022 Danjaq and MGM. All Rights Reserved.
Recently, Black Tomato has launched a series of epic James Bond-inspired experiences.courtesy of James Bond Indicia © 1962-2022 Danjaq and MGM. All Rights Reserved.

Its experiences blend reality and fiction by tailoring a tour around a filmic narrative with the traveller as the protagonist.

Recently, they launched a series of epic James Bond-inspired experiences. These include learning action stunts in London with 007’s stunt double Lee Morrison and sailing the Cote d'Azur onboard a vintage yacht with actress Carole Ashby (who starred in ‘Octopussy’ and ‘A View To A Kill’).

Trips range from five nights to any length of time desired with prices from £15,000 (€17,000) per person.

Big budget travellers who prefer to go off-grid can instead splash out to follow in the footsteps of Indiana Jones.

SevenTravel’s dedicated set-jetting itineraries let you explore vine-covered temples in Peru or cruise down the Nile in northern India with prices beginning at around €3,000.

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