Montalbano will save us: what are the prospects of Film Induced Tourism in Sicily?

Enrico Nicosia, PhD at the University of Macerata, says: «The experience is significant in other regions, but to turn around in Sicily it is necessary to simplify the bureaucratic procedure and guarantee a more substantial economic support through European funds too».

«This has been the most loved land by cinema and continues to be: in the ’60s there was a troupe every two months but it was a foreign cinema, it filmed and then went away. Sicilians were only background actors. Nobody has thought to build an enterprise, a film school, something that could decrease production costs and grab a work possibility». Giuseppe Tornatore’s consideration talks about Sicily, an open-air setting made of «wonderful glimpses and road sequences of a Baroque that seemed to be made of flesh, cathedrals of an extraordinary and almost awful richness», according to Pasolini’s words. Two great directors are mentioned above, among many who chose the island as setting for their movies, such as Luchino Visconti, Roberto Rossellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, till the latest like Matteo Garrone and Luca Guadagnino. There is an unstoppable buzz that remains uncultivated and to whom administrations that followed each other over the time has remained substantially indifferent; what gives evidence is the significant failure of “Sicily Movie Commition” and the consequent mediocre development of Film Induced Tourism. These are many of the topics we have talked about with Enrico Nicosia, PhD of Geography at the Educational Sciences, Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department of the University of Macerata.

A MISSED OPPORTUNITY. Since 2007 in Sicily there is a “Movie Commission” whose aim should be that of promoting and valorizing the territory, attracting Italian and foreign cinematographic, TV and advertising productions. To achieve these purposes, according to professor Nicosia’s opinion «it is necessary above all to simplify the bureaucratic procedure and guarantee a more substantial economic support through European funds too. Furthermore, it is essential to create a system that connect all stakeholders and lead them to dialogue: only in this way the high Sicilian potential will be used adequately». There are profitable entities in Italy, like “Apulia Film Commission”, which offer not only a model to emulate but also an evidence of a concrete confirmation of regional GDP. «The effect on the land ‒ as Nicosia affirms ‒ is tangible and you can spot the benefits not only on tourist and catering accommodations. Consider the troupes that set themselves in loco for a quite long time and the services they required. However, the premise is still a managing institution that is able to attract these resources».

(A frame of Giuseppe Tornatore’s movie Baarìa)

REVALUE THE ISLAND THROUGH CINEMA. A movie becomes a showcase at a national and international level that is able to attract notable flows of tourism. The phenomenon, which was observed at Matera after The Passion movie’s release, it is known as Film Induced Tourism and occurs also in our island, although to a limited extent. «Now in Sicily the phenomenon is totally spontaneous and takes place just in the quadrilateral area that includes Ragusa, Ibla, Modica, Scicli and Donnafugata. Since 1999, when the first episode of Montalbano was broadcast, the tourist increase in this area has doubled, from 500-600 thousand tourists to a million ones per year, it is also due to the opening of the Comiso airport and the Unesco recognition that have improved the fame of the province». However, it is difficult quantify Film Induced Tourists among the many who funneled into cultural tourism because «there are not statistics that evaluate this tourist experience and you can just suppose that the chief of police Montalbano series has contributed to improve tourism in Ragusa area». What is certain is that this kind of tourism has developed spontaneously in a context of lack of tour operators who can realize cinematographic itineraries or tourist guides that have competence in this field.

THE FILM INDUCED TOURISM OPERATOR’S INSTRUMENTS. Training disadvantages the sector too: «In Sicily the education provided is insufficient ‒ professor adds ‒ there are few study courses of Sicilian Film Induced Tourism and a lack of appropriate educational courses outside of academia too. It has been tried to make something at Messina through a course that unified University and Dams but there is a backwardness compared to other Italian Universities». In particular, for those who want to work in this field it is fundamental to know avant-garde software of design of cinematographic itineraries, like the GIS Quantum, «for making interactive itineraries and graphic representations as the movie map which locates symbolic places, from a cinematographic point of view, gives information about closer tourist and catering accommodations and recommended means of transport too».

Translated into English by Daniela Marsala

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