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The White Lotus effect: HBO and Netflix are deciding where you’ll take your next vacation

The White Lotus effect: HBO and Netflix are deciding where you’ll take your next vacation

Call it The White Lotus effect.

Vacationers are flocking to the locations of their favourite TV shows and movies in rapidly growing numbers. This goes beyond tourists scoping out the Friends apartment in the West Village or and builds on the way Game of Thrones fans would wind their way around Dubrovnik’s streets.

In a new report from American Express, 70 per cent of Gen Z and Millennials travellers say they have been inspired to travel to a destination after seeing it on screen or booked a destination after some binge watching. It’s almost as high as the impact of social media: 75 per cent of all respondents say they’d travelled to places after seeing friends or others post about their trips.

  Aubrey Plaza as Harper Spiller in season two of The White Lotus.

Aubrey Plaza as Harper Spiller in season two of The White Lotus.Credit:HBO/Binge

“Travellers are being increasingly inspired by pop culture,” says Audrey Hendley, president of American Express travel.

Some of the rise in popularity of set-jetting can be traced to pandemic habits. People who had to eat at home or couldn’t travel binged hours of television, like the smash-hit first seasons of HBO’s The White Lotus or Netflix’s Emily in Paris. From their couch, dreaming ahead to when travel restrictions would be lifted, with an unused leisure budget, viewers started planning a trip where they could be the main character. Now that borders are back open, set-jetting is booming into one of 2023’s biggest travel trends.

There’s no better example of this than White Lotus. The series was a critical and commercial success for HBO, and a dreamy inspiration for travellers. The comedy-drama chronicled the awkward interactions between wealthy guests and hotel staff at a luxury resort that ends with a person dead.

‘The show has also shone a spotlight on Taormina as an incredible destination.’

Marc Speichert, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Season one was filmed at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea and season two featured the sun-drenched, Aperol spritz-laden seaside idyll of the San Domenico Palace in Taormina, Italy, another Four Seasons property. Viewers who binged on the show have been booking out the real properties where the show was filmed, looking for la dolce vita of their own, in a boost for the hotels featured.

“The popular set-jetting trend has markedly increased interest in Maui and Taormina, with both properties experiencing a significant jump in website visits and availability checks, ultimately driving more bookings,” says Marc Speichert, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

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