Helen Hatzis
Helen Hatzis
July 6, 2024 ·  4 min read

Set-Jetting: Travel Inspired by Popular TV Shows and Movies

Photo of me at the Stranger Things Experience in Toronto

In the world of travel, a new trend is captivating the imaginations of globetrotters: set-jetting. This phenomenon involves travelers visiting locations that have been featured in their favorite TV shows and movies. Set-jetting allows fans to immerse themselves in the real-life settings of their beloved fictional worlds, offering a unique and engaging way to experience new destinations. From the eerie landscapes of “Wednesday” in Romania to the historical grandeur of Malta as seen in “Gladiator 2,” set-jetting is reshaping travel itineraries and boosting tourism in unexpected places.

The Rise of Set-Jetting

Set-jetting in Hollywood. Photo credit: Jake Blocker.

Set-jetting is not a completely new concept, but its popularity has surged in recent years due to the global reach of streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+. These platforms have brought diverse international locations into the living rooms of millions, sparking a desire to visit the places where iconic scenes were filmed. This trend is driven by the allure of stepping into the world of a favorite series or movie and experiencing firsthand the landscapes, architecture, and atmosphere that brought these stories to life.

According to a report by AMEX, over half of the travellers surveyed in a recent study said they had researched or booked a trip to a destination after seeing it in a television show or movie. The appeal is clear: set-jetting combines the excitement of travel with the nostalgia and emotional connection of beloved narratives​ (AMEX)​.

Popular Set-Jetting Destinations

Malta – “Gladiator 2” 

With the release of “Gladiator 2,” Malta has seen a resurgence in popularity among travelers. Known for its ancient architecture and historical significance, Malta provides a stunning backdrop for the epic film. Locations such as Fort Ricasoli and the ancient city of Mdina have become hotspots for fans looking to walk in the footsteps of gladiators and experience the grandeur of Roman history.

New Zealand – “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” 

The Hobbit Film set in New Zealand. Photo credit: TL

Perhaps one of the most famous set-jetting destinations, New Zealand continues to attract fans of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies. The country’s diverse and breathtaking landscapes, from the rolling hills of Hobbiton to the dramatic peaks of the Southern Alps, offer a magical experience for visitors. Tours of filming locations have become a significant part of New Zealand’s tourism industry, drawing fans from around the world.

Croatia – “Game of Thrones” 

Games of Thrones set in Croatia. Photo credit: Ballota.

The medieval cities and coastal beauty of Croatia were prominently featured in HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” making it a prime destination for set-jetters. Dubrovnik, which served as the primary filming location for King’s Landing, sees a steady stream of tourists eager to explore its ancient walls and narrow streets. Other locations, such as Split and Lokrum Island, also attract fans of the series.

Scotland – “Outlander” 

Blackness Castle, in Blackness Scotland. Photo credit: Dr John Wells.

The historical drama “Outlander” has sparked interest in Scotland’s rugged landscapes and historic sites. Fans of the series visit locations like Doune Castle, which stands in for Castle Leoch, and the charming village of Culross, which portrays the town of Cranesmuir or village of Blackness, Scotland. Blackness Castle is an impressive 15th-century fortress. The show’s depiction of Scotland’s natural beauty and rich history has boosted tourism across the country.

Ireland – “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Skellig Michael in County Kerry, Ireland featured in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The dramatic cliffs and ancient monastic site of Skellig Michael in County Kerry, Ireland featured in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” have made Ireland a must-visit destination for fans of the franchise. The island’s remote and mystical atmosphere provided the perfect setting for the scenes featuring Luke Skywalker’s exile. Visitors to Skellig Michael can experience the otherworldly beauty that captivated audiences worldwide.

The Impact of Set-Jetting on Tourism

Photo credit: Jakob Owens

Set-jetting has a significant impact on tourism, often leading to a surge in visitors to featured locations. This trend can boost local economies, create jobs, and increase awareness of lesser-known destinations. However, it also poses challenges, such as the risk of over-tourism and the need for sustainable tourism practices to protect the natural and cultural heritage of these sites.

For example, the influx of tourists to Dubrovnik following its appearance in “Game of Thrones” led to concerns about the city’s ability to handle the increased foot traffic. In response, local authorities implemented measures to manage the flow of visitors and preserve the historic city’s integrity.

On the positive side, set-jetting can help diversify tourism by directing travelers to a broader range of destinations. This can reduce the pressure on traditional tourist hotspots and spread the economic benefits more evenly across regions.

As you embark on your travels, remember that our journey leaves an impact. Embrace eco-friendly accommodations, support local communities, and reduce plastic use. Respect wildlife by observing from afar and conserve resources like water and energy. Choose sustainable transportation, leave no trace behind, and participate in conservation efforts. Educate yourself and others about the environment you’re exploring. Let’s ensure that we tread lightly on our planet, leaving only footprints of kindness and taking home memories that inspire others to protect our beautiful world. Happy responsible travels!