When HBO’s black comedy “The White Lotus” premieres in the summer of 2021, it transports viewers to sunny Maui in Hawaii. It was time to escape a pandemic full of intrigue, satire, sex and bloodshed.
The second season featured a mostly new cast — save for Jennifer Coolidge and her character’s quietly sinister husband, played by Jon Gries — and a new location, Taormina, on the rugged southern Italian island of Sicily.
Both seasons highlighted so-called “screen tourism” – the growing tendency of travelers to visit places they see in television shows and movies.
US Google searches about visiting Italy According to online research company SEMrush, that increased by about 20% between October — after the premiere of the second season — and December of 2022.
Travel bookings by Americans to Italy nearly doubled during this time as well, according to Jim Corridor, insights manager at market research firm SimilarWeb.
Since the beautifully shot setting is as much a character as the cast, the audience is now running out to know where the third season will be filmed.
a not so subtle hint
Many viewers caught a subtle hint in the final show, when Daphne (played by actress Meghan Fahy), toasting at dinner, said, “Next year, Maldives.”
But we’re not so sure.
The Maldives was named at the end of season two of “The White Lotus”, leading fans to speculate that it would be the next filming location.
Levante Bodo | moments | Getty Images
HBO has not announced where the next season will be set.
However, in October 2022, producer Mike White indicated it could be Asia, when he told entertainment news website Deadline: “I think maybe going to a different continent would be fun. You know, we’ve done Europe – and maybe Asia, something crazy like that, that would be fun.”
So much excitement has been generated by the show – and its borderline hardcore fanbase – that any statement White makes is immediately attacked.
this happened when he created a short video message for author Evan Katz Ross last month reportedly on a beach in Thailand.
Ross posted the video to his Twitter account, which has nearly 1.5 million views. Take note of the theories that “The White Lotus” is headed to the Southeast Asian nation, known as the “Land of Smiles”.
But the smart money is on Japan – specifically, the historic former capital of Kyoto.
in season one, The Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea hosted the show. In season two, it was the San Domenico Palace Taormina Four Seasons Hotel.
Kyoto also has a Four Seasons Hotel, as do Maui and Taormina. The zen-like five-star hotel is built around an ancient pond where a famous chieftain lived during the 12th century.
There are three Four Seasons hotels in Japan – two in Tokyo and one in Kyoto (pictured).
Source: Four Seasons Kyoto
The location plays into the hint that spirituality will be a focus of season three as well.
White told Deadline, “The first season highlighted money and then the second season is sex.” “I think the third season will be a satirical and funny look at death and Eastern religion and spirituality.”
He also let it slip that “Jennifer [Coolidge] My friend is and everyone loved her in the first season, and I was like, ‘I can’t go to Italy without Jennifer.’ And maybe it still is. Like, maybe you can’t even go to Japan without Jennifer.”
Indeed, in Japanese culture the lotus flower is revered for being able to emerge gracefully and pristinely from muddy water, a symbol of wisdom.
“Enlightened” is the name of another HBO series created by Mike White, which ran for two seasons and starred Laura Dern.
We asked Four Seasons Kyoto whether plans to shoot there are indeed underway – but representatives declined to comment.
If Kyoto is indeed the location, the hotel and city can expect a substantial increase in its global profile after the show airs.
Effect of ‘screen tourism’
For both the season premiere and finale of “The White Lotus,” Four Seasons hotels in Maui and Taormina experienced some of their highest search traffic ever, said Mark Speichert, chief commercial officer of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts.
“In Maui, for example, during the first season, we experienced a 425% year-over-year increase in website visits and a 386% increase in availability checks,” he said.
San Domenico Palace Taormina, with the iconic steep slopes of the smoldering Mount Etna as its backdrop, closes for the season until mid-March but is then fully booked by May – so expect to miss gals like Mia and Lucia Will have to wait
In the second season of “The White Lotus” two characters spend the night at Villa Tusca. To do so, be prepared to pay around $6,000 per night.
Camillo Balocini | Mondadori Portfolio | Getty Images
But other filming locations in Sicily have also become popular, such as the Villa Tasca in Palermo, the capital of Sicily.
The 16th-century estate, with four bedrooms and 20 acres of gardens, is listed on Airbnb for around $6,000 per night.
Beyond “The White Lotus”, traveling to visit iconic TV and movie locations is becoming a widespread trend.
Netflix shows such as “Bridgerton” and “Emily in Paris” are said to have fueled travel interest in Bath, England (pictured) and France, respectively.
bento photography | moments | Getty Images
“We are seeing an increase in visits to cultural capitals and the role TV shows are playing in tourism,” said John Geiselman, president of Expedia Brands.
It is also largely a global phenomenon. According to an Expedia report published in November 2022, when polled, two-thirds of global travelers considered trips to destinations after seeing them in movies or on television – and nearly 40% booked.