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Enticing Blockbusters to Thailand

Movie fever has been re-ignited once again in Thailand after the Cabinet recently approved a plan to attract more Hollywood movie producers with financial incentives to shoot films in the Kingdom. The plans were originally suggested by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, which is keen for more high-profile films to be set in the Land of Smiles.

We are talking about famous blockbuster movies with high budgets, such as Star Wars, said Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, minister of tourism and sports. At one point, Thailand was considered as a location [for the Star Wars franchise] but the producers opted to use the UK instead because it offered incentives Thailand did not. If we had incentives with some boundaries, such as using places that have tourist attractions as part of movie sets, then we could promote our country's image. Many countries in the region are also considering similar measures, she added.

Movie tourism has played a part in Thailand for some time thanks to legendary big screen movies such as The Beach, The Man with the Golden Gun and The Killing Fields which were all filmed in the Kingdom. Earlier this year, the Department of Tourism also authorized a budget of THB40 million (US$1.1 million) for the construction of a movie memorabilia museum on Phuket.

The museum will display memorabilia from movies that have been filmed on the island by well-known, international film makers, Santi Pawai, director of Phuket's Ministry of Tourism and Sports office told the press. We held public hearings, and locals agreed that having the museum will bring more tourists to the area, which will result in more income for them. We are looking to have more attractions on the island in addition to the natural beauty that already exists,' he added.

According to Wattanavrangkul, when popular franchises such as James Bond or Mission Impossible are set in a specific country, tourism business records 20-30 percent growth in the year the movie comes out.