Thursday, August 17, 2017

Anime tourism – an interesting twist on film tourism

We all know now that films can have a powerful impact on the desire to travel to certain destinations – fans of Lord of the Rings and James Bond have been flocking to New Zealand and the UK respectively for many years to visit their favorite film locations. But can cartoons have a similar influence?

In a new journal article just accepted in Current Issues in Tourism, SmartState Chair Simon Hudson suggests they can. In the article - co-authored with Vince Tung and Suna Lee from Hong Kong Polytechnic University – the authors explore the world of animation tourism - motivated tourists who purposely visit a destination or partake in activities at a destination as a result of anime. Japanese animation, or anime, emerged in the 1910s and developed into its modern, distinctive form in the 1960s. It is comprised of two components: manga and animation. Manga, which means recurring drawings, are comic strips that employ an exquisite drawing style with descriptive formats and fluid strokes. Animation, similar to Western cartoons, is featured on television and videos with storylines and characters that are often based on manga.

A good example of anime resulting in tourism is Your Name (Makoto Shinkai’s teen body swap comedy). The beauty, and the film’s romanticism, have turned the Japanese locations featured in the anime into fan meccas, with tourists flocking to the real life locations – the steps to a shrine in downtown Tokyo, a public library in the rural town of Hida, mundane looking train tracks in the same quiet countryside – despite knowing it won’t be exactly as they’ve seen it on the big screen (see for more).

The new article proposes a novel framework for capturing animation tourism marketing opportunities and provides a conceptual foundation to ignite a new generation of future research interests that are much needed in this area. The authors argue that destination management organizations (DMOs) and tourism marketers in Japan can use anime to ignite their marketing campaigns, as unique opportunities are generated given the distinctive characteristics, timely releases of new, as well as the long-term continuation of existing franchises, in a variety of storylines. Additionally, businesses and services could be created through animation tourism that would encourage visitors throughout the year. 

The article on anime tourism is called The Potential of Anime for Destination Marketing: Fantasies, Otaku, and the Kidult Segment and will soon be online at: