Hollywood and literary fiction has collided. There’s a new trend getting around, where die-hard fans of best-selling-novels-made-into-Hollywood-blockbusters go on literary tours around Hollywood. Not only do these fans get to see the location(s) where the movie was filmed, but using carefully planned itineraries and schedules, they also get the opportunity to feel the spirit of their heroes!
In Brevard, North Carolina, there is a a great example of this emerging travel trend with The Hunger Games Fan Tours. One of the co-founders, Tammy Hopkins, noted, “We call this a fandemonium”, as she describes tour participants as “super fans”. The goal of the Hunger Games Tour is to give travelers an immersion experience by creating activities that mirror one of the film’s characters like a Zip-lining adventure through the Pisgah National Forest.
Arrangements were made by the State Tourism Division to allow activities to be done in the exact locations from the movie and setting. This takes place from Charlotte to the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you’re a keen fan, you can experience ‘hunting’ by taking one of the archery classes on offer. There are other Hunger Games-themed survival classes, as well, such as fire-making, camouflage and shelter building, just to name a few.
Spokeswoman for the Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development, Margo Metzer, confirms that the popularity of the tour has risen significantly. She says that since its online release, it has been viewed 20,000 times.
Another film that has spawned a fan tour is “The Help”. The film has helped send thousands of fans to Greenwood, Mississippi, which was the town in which the movie was filmed. The Executive Director of Greenwood’s Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, Paige Hunt, stated that fans from all 50 states come to the town to view the large houses and neighborhoods that were featured in the film.
Even though the setting of the book is in Jackson, Mississippi in 1963, the city of Jackson no longer resembles what it did during that time; however, Greenwood does, which gives the fans and characters the right ambiance to think you are actually there in 1963.
Literary tourism is a cultural tourism trend that focuses on destinations and events from fictional books in addition to the lives of the authors. Many literary legends called Mississippi home, such as Williams and Faulkner. Willie Morris, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright and Shelby Foote are also natives. The owner of Square Books in Oxford, Richard Howorth refers to the state as a “Literary Mecca”. Literary tours are actually not new here, as they began before Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for his mythical kingdom called, Yoknapatawpha. This has brought many curious fans from all over the world to the area to see what it is. There are two annual events held in the town: The Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference and the Oxford Conference of the Book. These events attract an average of 20,000 enthusiasts annually.
Monroe, Alabama commemorated the 50th anniversary of the film adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. The film was based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, written by Harper Lee about race and redemption in the 1930s South. Fans celebrated the movie and its literary companion with many games of hopscotch and checkers.
According to a 2009 study led by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, 78% of Americans participate in Literary Tours. They contribute an average of $192 billion to the US economy by spending nearly $1000 for each trip. This makes Literary Tourism a valuable asset to the country and the pages of each book opens up a new world to every reader.