If you’re a diehard reader within the world of Outlander and the media, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of The Outlander Effect already. It’s a fairly easy term to define — Outlander makes money. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the show or the books. It’s also far from the first time that we’ve seen a book adaptation lead to everything from merchandise to tourism boosts — look at what Twilight did for Forks, or what Lord of the Rings, just the movies alone, did for New Zealand.
The reason for discussing the Outlander Effect further today is due to author Diana Gabaldon being recently honored with an International Contribution to Scottish Tourism award at the Scottish Thistle awards — an honor due to the massive effect that her story and the Starz series has had on the local economy. According to new figures, Scottish tourism has been boosted a whopping 67% since 2013, an effect that’s in part to the story of Jamie and Claire Fraser on-screen. Sam Heughan has even been brought on board to promote the upcoming ExpoNorth event in Inverness, which will in part feature ways for local business to capitalize on the impact of the show. Per the Scotsman, here’s some of what he has to say on the subject:
“Outlander has not just changed my life completely, it’s hugely affected Scotland too, seeing our culture and heritage reach internationally and celebrated around the world. I first met my character Jamie Fraser six years ago when asked to audition for the TV adaptation. Little did I realize how popular and widely read Diana’s books are, or I may have been more nervous. I’ve seen thousands of fans each year, travel to Scotland, visit our locations and try to immerse themselves in our world in any way possible.
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So what is it that makes Outlander such a beacon for Scottish tourism, and why do we expect its impact to still be felt even with the show featuring North Carolina more as the setting these days? (The scenes are technically still filmed in Scotland.) There are three different reasons worthy highlighting here.
1. What you see on the screen – Obviously, Scotland is a beautiful place with wonderful coastlines, rolling hills, green fields, quaint villages, and so much more. There’s a romanticism that comes with seeing the place for yourself and being a little more off the map — or at least away from the expected world. (Scotland certainly has plenty of populated areas — it’s not as though traveling there is completely remote.) Outlander through multiple seasons highlighted the natural beauty of this place, and without modern conveniences or technology present, it was able to better showcase its many wonders, free of distraction.
2. What was on the page – Consider this almost attachment by association. The vistas and visuals within Scotland are without a doubt beautiful, but the work of Gabaldon, and then later the work by the Outlander writers and producers, enabled the region to take on a different life of their own. If you think about Inverness, there’s a chance the series’ early days do come to mind. Think of the Highlands, and there’s a chance that you think of Jamie Fraser. Even though the characters may be fictional, an innate desire still remains to try and retrace some of their steps — to be where these people were. There’s a desire for recreation and to experience the same luscious, romantic world you were once a part of on screen.
3. What is not familiar – For many who are Scottish, perhaps a part of Outlander appreciation comes from pride. For many Americans, a part of it may come from just an education. Think about how much Scottish history is taught in school — it’s minimal at best. Meanwhile, think of how many times places like New York, Hollywood, Venice, or Paris are attached to romantic ideals. Few have done it with Scotland quite like Outlander has. The books and the series introduce their audience to a new world, one that there is an eagerness to explore — especially when you know so little about it and can read and enjoy the material without judgment. It’s seeing something lovely with a fresh set of eyes.
What makes Outlander and Scotland as a place so appealing to you?
Be sure to share some of your thoughts on that subject below! (Photo: Starz.)