VisitBritain’s Ritushri Dhankher, Lynda Falcone and Cathy Stapells with British Consul General, Fouzia Younis (second from right)

North Star leads the way for VisitBritain’s TIFF event showcasing screen tourism

TORONTO — Some call it screen tourism, some call it ‘set jetting’.

No matter the label, the impact is the same: millions of dollars in tourism revenue for destinations with a starring role in beloved films.

Britain has played host to so many great movie productions over the decades, it’s hard to keep track, but quick snippets of dozens of favourites were featured in a fun video accompanying VisitBritain’s Sept. 15 presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

VisitBritain laid out a stylish spread for the TIFF Lightbox event, with special guest, British Consul General, Fouzia Younis, on hand to address guests. The VisitBritain team includes Lynda Falcone, Travel Trade Manager, Ritushri Dhankher, Communications & Travel Trade Executive – Canada, Diego Perez, Travel Trade Executive USA (based in Toronto) and Cathy Stapells, Senior Marketing & Communications Manager – Canada.

This year’s TIFF included no fewer than 24 British films. These two dozen movies, plus countless more over the years, “make for incredible opportunities for screen tourism in Britain,” said Stapells.

Films, and also TV, are big motivators for travel. “More than one-third of potential visitors to the UK are keen to visit locations connected to film and TV,” said Stapells. In 2019, visitors spent 892 million pounds on film-related tourism activities.

VisitBritain has been promoting film tourism for at least a decade, she added. Recent draws include (but certainly aren’t limited to) Bridgerton, Downton Abbey, James Bond and the Paddington movies.

British Consul General Fouzia Younis, in her presentation, said Canadian visits to Britain are strong and trending up for 2023: “We’ve been hovering around 1 million and our aim is to get at least 1 million people this year, in fact I think we’re going to smash that.”

Younis shared what she called “one of her favourite statistics”: the number of flights between Canada and Britain. “We have 102 direct flights between the UK and Canada,” she said to applause.

The VisitBritain reception was followed by a TIFF screening of ‘North Star’, filmed in Hampstead. North Star is the directorial debut of Kristin Scott Thomas and stars Scott Thomas along with Scarlett Johansson, Sienna Miller, Freida Pinto and more. Keen-eyed viewers might also recognize James Fleet, who played Scott Thomas’ brother Tom in the iconic 1994 British film Four Weddings and a Funeral. In North Star, he plays Scott Thomas’ new husband.

To the trade and consumer media at last Friday’s event, Stapells said: “We have a lot of screen tourism content and we’re eager to work with you.”

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