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How ‘White Lotus’ and Other TV Shows Are Helping Millennials and Gen Z Choose Their Next Vacation

A new report revealed that more vacationers are booking trips to the destinations they see onscreen.  

white lotus travel trend Fabio Lovino/HBO

While White Lotus viewers might enjoy watching well-heeled characters jet off to idyllic locales, some fans are taking their wanderlust a step further and booking getaways featured in their latest binge.  

New data from a report published by American Express revealed that more than half of Gen-Z and millennial travelers have been influenced to visit the glitzy sites in which their favorite series were filmed. In fact, a whopping 70 percent said they wanted to plan a trip to a destination after seeing it on a TV show or movie. “Travelers are being increasingly inspired by pop culture,” Audrey Hendley, president of American Express travel, told Bloomberg

For example, director Mike White chose the dreamy Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea as the setting for White Lotus season one and shot season two of the star-studded drama at San Domenico Palace, another Four Seasons property on the Sicilian coast. Not long after, both hotels received a surge in traffic.  

set jetting travel trend 2023
Hotels in Taormina have seen a surge in interest after White Lotus season two Fabio Lovino/HBO

“The popular set-jetting trend has markedly increased interest in Maui and Taormina, with both properties experiencing a significant jump in website visits and availability checks, ultimately driving more bookings,” Marc Speichert, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, explained to the news site. “For the upcoming season in Taormina, the property is sold out over a number of periods and the show has also shone a spotlight on Taormina as an incredible destination.” Even resorts around Sicily not seen in the show, including Rocco Forte and Belmond, have had a spike in tourist demand.  

It’s not just White’s HBO satire, though, that’s making audiences wonder what if. The set-jetting trend has taken effect across the pond, thanks to shows including Netflix’s Emily in Paris, which aired its second installment at the end of last year, Downton Abbey, and the hit period drama, Bridgerton. Since the latter debuted in 2020, locations such as Castle Howard in North Yorkshire have had a rise in visitors, as well as the town of Bath.  

“We’re seeing a younger audience come to Bath because of the show,” Patricia Yates, CEO of VisitBritain, tells Bloomberg. “It’s great to see that our history and heritage are being displayed in this way where millennials and Gen-Z travelers are coming in greater numbers.”  

The question is, where to next? We’ll have to watch and see. 

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