Let us learn from Mamma Mia!

Posted on July 30 2010 by James
Greek Island harbour

Symi, the port of Yialos

I’m quoted in the Greek national evening newspaper Ta Nea as saying that whichever island becomes the location for our movie project can expect the same kind of publicity that Mamma Mia! brought to Skopolos.

Of course, I’m not expecting Greek Island, our film, to be anything like as much of an international blockbuster as that Hollywood production, so the scale is probably different. But I have read about what happened on Skopolos and realise there are lessons to be learned.

Skopolos (according to your viewpoint) has suffered or enjoyed a massive multi-billion euro surge in tourism, especially marriage tourism. It’s done wonders for the economy there. But the downside is that a massive surge in “Hollywood” tourism means a massive number of people clogging the streets, and, in this case, singing Abba songs and seeking out the church and other key locations shown in the film.

The Mayor of Skopolos complains that people are looking for Hollywood’s version of the island, which simply doesn’t exist, and are forgetting that the island has a history and beauty of its own that is worth visiting.

Many tourists feel they have been duped because once inside the church (where some were hoping to get married), for example, they found it bore no resemblance to the set created for the film.

Although Greek Island is inspired by Symi, that doesn’t mean it will necessarily be filmed here. But if it is, then I hope it will bring a lot of good to the local economy. If Symi features, we will ensure it is faithful to the island’s traditions and environment so that anyone wanting to visit because of the film will find it meets all their expectations. And we won’t be using sets, but genuine locations.

They certainly won’t be terrifying the local population with their close harmony Abba songs, because there won’t be any in Greek Island.

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