Can a TV show be good enough to inspire tourists to visit a destination? One quiet corner of the Caribbean hopes so, aiming to capitalize on the BBC series "Death in Paradise."
The tourist industry in this part of the world is adept at taking advantage of its screen time. An example of this: the interactive Pirates of Nassau Museum in the Bahamas. Though much of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise was shot in studios elsewhere, the Windward Islands, especially Saint Vincent, were used for some of the filming. Another Caribbean pirate tale, the Starz series "Black Sails," is set in the same colonial period, but it is filmed mainly in South Africa.
The biggest problem in drawing tourism from the series? The island setting of Saint Marie, where "Death in Paradise" takes place, is entirely fictional.
Luckily, the locations used in the show are real, and they are right in the middle of the Caribbean on the islands of Guadeloupe.
A way to showcase non-touristy destinations
Guadeloupe, which is officially an overseas department of France, has grown its tourism industry in recent years. Cruise ships and an increase in the number of direct flights have brought more travelers from the non-francophone world.
Most of "Death in Paradise" is filmed in a less visited section of Basse-Terre, one of Guadeloupe’s two main islands. Many of the settings are in and around the small town of Deshaies, which is not far from the mostly-undeveloped Grand Anse Beach area. The show’s fans can have a drink at the open-air bar that is featured in almost every episode, and they can walk past the colorful buildings that provide the backdrop for the mysteries.
The best of both worlds
Guadeloupe is unique in the Caribbean. It has chilled-out villages like Deshaies, uncrowded beaches and undeveloped interiors. More-natural islands like this are usually lacking when it comes to infrastructure, but that is not the case here.
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This is, after all, part of France, so roads and services as good, and there is a generally high standard when it comes to hospitality and related industries. The kind of sites featured in the show are accessible even if you are traveling without the aid of a guide.
There is a precedent for this kind of charming TV portrayal of a destination helping to increase tourism. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, filmed on location in Botswana and broadcast on HBO in the US, is still drawing tourists to the southern African country. Meanwhile, many visitors to Yorkshire, in the UK, come in search of the settings from the amazingly popular Downton Abbey series.
Can I see what I see on screen in real life?
The gap between what is on screen and reality can sometimes cause disappointment for tourists. People coming to see what they saw in a movie may feel let down because it was either shot somewhere else or was enhanced in a studio so that it looks very different from reality.
Few such embellishments are part of the BBC series "Death in Paradise." The lighthearted mystery show, which is broadcast on PBS in the United States, is set on the island of Saint Marie. The island is portrayed as a bright and cheerful place with street markets, a relaxed vibe, beautiful beaches that are never crowded, charming open-air bars and lush jungles that are accessible for birdwatching and other adventure activities.
Have you ever traveled to visit where your favorite TV shows are filmed?