Originally posted: http://www.jedinews.co.uk/news/news.aspx?newsID=25022
The Guardian takes a look at the use of Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean in The Force Awakens, and the benefits of tourism to the area as fans flock to the area.
Disney is not alone in celebrating the success of its new Star Wars epic. An enchanting corner of Gloucestershire far, far away, is also feeling the force. Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean, a tranquil, moss-carpeted woodland where JRR Tolkien is said to have found the inspiration for the forests of Middle Earth, is reaping the benefits of the Star Wars phenomenon.
Parts of Star Wars: The Force Awakens were shot at Puzzlewood and fans seeking an authentic Luke Skywalker experience are flocking to the location in their droves, many in stormtrooper garb. A week after the film hit the screens, visitor numbers are double the average. Hotels and B&Bs are struggling to meet demand.
For a region that has historically found it hard to create jobs, the Forest of Dean’s links to the franchise and a host of others films, notably Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, could prove to be a major asset.
Film consultancy Olsberg estimates that “screen tourism” was worth as much as £140m to the UK last year and is likely to increase. Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Tourism, which last week launched a guide to the area for film fans, believes that screen tourism will bring in £50m to the local economy over the next five years.
“The region suffered during the foot-and-mouth crisis of 11 years ago,” said its director, Mark Terry-Lush. “The mining industry has been decimated; in terms of jobs and prospects, tourism is something that the area needs to look into and really try to grasp.”
It may seem perverse that a remote spot of the West Country, more Laurie Lee than JJ Abrams, has become such an attraction for sci-fi fans, but Puzzlewood will be familiar to viewers. A location for Doctor Who, Merlin and Atlantis on the small screen, it made its film debut in 2013 in Jack the Giant Slayer, starring Nicholas Hoult.
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