What The Bach­e­lorette’ has done for tourism

The show’s contestants often end up in some far-flung destination. But has Bimini, Latvia or that sex windmill in Greece received a boost in tourism since being featured? Tricia Gilbride investigates.

There is noth­ing more exhaust­ing than break­ing up with some­one who won’t even let you speak. But drop the whole exchange on the Greek island of San­tori­ni, and 23 sea­sons of The Bach­e­lor and 15 sea­sons of The Bach­e­lorette begin to make a lit­tle more sense.

Telling off a slut-sham­ing suit­or on the most recent sea­son, Bach­e­lorette Han­nah B. declares, I have had sex and Jesus still loves me.” In con­fes­sion­als, she right­eous­ly brags about the Fan­ta­sy Suite ren­dezvous with Pilot Pete. I fucked in a wind­mill, and guess what? We did it a sec­ond time.” It’s pre­cise­ly the kind of dra­mat­ic con­fronta­tion the fran­chise thrives on in which the vir­tu­ous quest for the ulti­mate prize, true love, is blan­ket­ed in absur­di­ty and aspi­ra­tion. On my couch, I con­sid­er the logis­tics of rent­ing an entire windmill. 

The Bach­e­lor is a trav­el show dis­guised as a dat­ing show. Of the 30 or so con­tes­tants each sea­son, most who make it past the first Rose Cer­e­mo­ny will, at the very least, ven­ture out­side the man­sion and see a bit of Cal­i­for­nia, jour­ney­ing from hot tub to hot tub. Then the whole gang relo­cates to a state­side des­ti­na­tion or two, per­haps a ski lodge in Utah. The sur­vivors go inter­na­tion­al to suf­fer for­eign indig­ni­ties, like com­pet­i­tive mim­ing in Paris for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to spend more than five min­utes alone with the woman they all call their girl­friend. From there, the top four con­tenders play host in their home­towns, mak­ing the very best case they can for poten­tial­ly liv­ing or at least spend­ing hol­i­days in Hox­ie, Arkansas or Hunt­ing­ton Beach, CA. Fan­ta­sy Suites, in which the Bach­e­lor or Bach­e­lorette have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to spend the night with their top con­tenders, amp up the dra­ma, hous­ing the lovers in lux­u­ry glass igloos, for one. Final­ly, who­ev­er remains meets up in one last jaw-drop­ping exot­ic locale for the Final Rose Cer­e­mo­ny. Con­verse­ly, only one con­tes­tant walks away with requit­ed love, if even that. 

The now-famous wind­mill is avail­able to book on Airbnb for a rea­son­able $56 USD a night if you can make your way to Nikithi­anos, Greece. The cou­ple offer­ing the unique prop­er­ty for rent, Gior­gios and Athi­na, cozy up in a self­ie includ­ed in the list­ing, like a Bach­e­lor suc­cess sto­ry. Renters have to descend a set of exte­ri­or stairs to get to the bath­room from the lovers’ lair, which is prob­a­bly a plus if you find your­self in a for­eign coun­try shar­ing a bed for the first time with some­one who has a 25% chance of immi­nent­ly proposing. 

There are cur­rent­ly only four reviews for the wind­mill, but since I viewed the list­ing, increas­ing­ly urgent emails from Airbnb tell me to move fast, book­ings are expect­ed to go up by 100%. Most des­ti­na­tions fea­tured on the show will at least see a sig­nif­i­cant dig­i­tal spike in inter­est, but whether or not that actu­al­ly trans­lates into actu­al tourism depends on a few factors. 

The lik­a­bil­i­ty of the Bach­e­lor or Bach­e­lorette at the heart of the sea­son mat­ters some. Jade Moun­tain, a resort in St. Lucia, has host­ed the show twice and a cou­ple of for­eign spin-offs with mixed results. After Jake Pavelka’s sea­son, vis­i­tors men­tioned dis­cov­er­ing the resort through the show, accord­ing to a rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the resort. Car­toon vil­lain Juan Pablo’s dra­ma dis­tract­ed from the locale, how­ev­er, and Jade Moun­tain reports no eco­nom­ic ben­e­fit” from host­ing his season. 

On the oth­er hand, Bach­e­lor Nation’s most pop­u­lar cou­ple, Sean Lowe and Cather­ine Giu­di­ci, got engaged at Pa Sak Tong resort in Thai­land. John Dun­bar, the Gen­er­al Man­ag­er of the resort worked close­ly with the show’s crew, and says there hasn’t been a notice­able impact. We have had Amer­i­can guests arrive and recog­nise the resort imme­di­ate­ly from the episode and then take var­i­ous self­ies in the bed that Sean and Cather­ine stayed in,” he says. But no book­ings were gen­er­at­ed as a result of film­ing here.”

Still, they have a page ded­i­cat­ed to the Bach­e­lor con­nec­tion on their web­site, and even have the full episode avail­able for view­ing in the enter­tain­ment room for guests to enjoy with popcorn!”

We have had Amer­i­can guests arrive and recog­nise the resort imme­di­ate­ly from the episode and then take var­i­ous self­ies in the bed that Sean and Catharine stayed in, but no book­ings were gen­er­at­ed as a result of film­ing here” – John Dunbar

This is, in part, prob­a­bly a mat­ter of com­mit­ment lev­el. Check­ing out a bar you saw on tele­vi­sion state­side isn’t quite the same invest­ment as hop­ping con­ti­nents to book a pricey Fan­ta­sy Suite wor­thy room at a resort. But it can come down to the con­tract, and tourist des­ti­na­tions get what they pay for.

The Bach­e­lor set up shop at Pa Sak Tong for a dis­count­ed rate and didn’t get so much as a namecheck dur­ing the actu­al pro­gram, but plen­ty of coun­tries’ tourism boards are hap­py to throw down a few fig­ures for the expo­sure. Con­tracts might spec­i­fy that cer­tain shots of land­marks or men­tions from the tal­ent make it into the final broad­cast or social media posts. 

Park City, Utah is one of them. Accord­ing to Dan Howard, Direc­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Vis­it Park City, the short dis­tance from LA makes for a con­ve­nient ongo­ing part­ner­ship. Mon­tage Deer Val­ley ski resort and OP Rock­well, a bar offer­ing West­ern-meets-Vic­to­ri­an speakeasy” ambiance, have been pop­u­lar among fans, but the biggest hit was the offi­cial Bach­e­lor Nation meet­up tele­vised live dur­ing the pre­miere of Colton Underwood’s sea­son. There are very few ways for a town to be woven in’ to be a back­drop for a high­ly-rat­ed nation­al tele­vi­sion pro­gram,” says Howard, but The Bach­e­lor is one of them. 

It’s not always a fit. Some loca­tions are just too goth for the con­ser­v­a­tive fran­chise, like the Edgar Allan Poe Muse­um in Rich­mond, Vir­ginia. The unique date set­up made great TV, but the muse­um has had bet­ter luck attract­ing view­ers of more on-brand projects like The Raven and The Fol­low­ing, which are both mur­der mys­ter­ies incor­po­rat­ing Poe him­self. A Bach­e­lorette date activ­i­ty inspired by the collection’s por­trait of Poe made from human blood was, per­haps wise­ly, cut from the broad­cast. But accord­ing to cura­tor Chris Semt­ner, there was one clear break­out star.

Peo­ple spot­ted Edgar, the Poe Muse­um cat, when he ran through one of the shots,” he says. The cam­era was at cat lev­el and got a good shot of him. Since then, some of our guests told us they saw him on the show and want­ed to meet him dur­ing their vis­its. He is now our res­i­dent celebrity.”

Increas­ing­ly, the fran­chise is attempt­ing to jump off the screen, and fan mee­tups like the one in Park City are just the begin­ning. The recent­ly-announced Bach­e­lor Live Tour will bring the show to a few dozen cities across the Unit­ed States, with for­mer con­tes­tants help­ing locals find love on stage. It’s not hard to imag­ine they’re test­ing the waters for a Bach­e­lor Nation cruise, cre­at­ing a self-con­tained ecosys­tem for the fan­dom. Mean­while on our tele­vi­sions, they’ll be sure to set up dates so per­plex­ing view­ers have no choice but to assume it must be roman­tic on some lev­el. Fine din­ing on a sub­ma­rine some­where under the Arc­tic Ocean while a coun­try singer ser­e­nades you mere foot­steps away? Sure.

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