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Picture perfect locations

Sitting down to watch a good film can be a pleasant way to while away a couple of hours, especially with the power of imagination to transport us to a different world!

Over the years, as films became more extravagant with studios allocating bigger budgets, many filmmakers have been able to achieve greater realism by using a "real" place, rather than creating it on a sound stage or a back lot.

Film tourism is no longer just about guides taking you around studios or trips to theme-parks with rides inspired by popular films. The magic of the movies is now truly a global adventure!

This week the Flexicover Team looks at some iconic film locations that will transport you through the silver screen.

Star Wars – Mos Espa, Tatooine

Possibly one of the greatest movie franchises, with all 6 films featuring in the top 100 highest grossing films, Star Wars really put Tataouine, Tunisia, on the map. Not only did George Lucas base the name of Luke Skywalker's fictional home planet on it but he also used various locations throughout the area for filming. At the request from the Tunisian tourist office, many of the sets in the south of the country were left standing. Ksar Ouled Soltane (a 15th century Berber fortified village), along with two other local ksars, features in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace as the locations of Mos Espa's Slave Quarters Row, where Anakin Skywalker lived as a boy.

Lord of the Rings – Dimholt Road, Middle Earth

Ever since Peter Jackson made his epic film trilogy, millions recognise New Zealand as the living embodiment of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imaginary world. Movie tourism tied to the saga is now flourishing with many location tours available enabling fans to immerse themselves in the lands of the hobbits, elves, wizards and dwarves. There’s even a 12 day excursion across both the North and South Islands which covers most of the breathtaking film locations. Probably the most eerie location used is Putangirua Pinnacles, depicted as the Dimholt Road in The Return of the King where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli ride to meet the Army of the Dead. Trivia note: Jackson also used this location in the opening scenes of his 1992 cult classic Braindead.

James Bond – Scaramanga's Lair, South China Sea

Roger Moore’s second outing as Bond in the 1974 film The Man with the Golden Gun saw the suave British secret agent taking on Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee). The chase sees Bond tracking the arch-villain through Lebanon, Hong Kong and Bangkok before the final face off at the island lair of the assassin. The location for this iconic scene is known locally as Ko Tapu (“Nail Island”) though since it found fame is sometimes known as “James Bond Island” and the scenic topography not only helped make the film into a firm Bond favourite but transformed the previously unknown Phang Nga Bay into a major tourist attraction.

Rocky – ‘The Rocky Steps’, Philadelphia, USA

The original montage in the Oscar-winning Rocky practically set the bar for this type of film editing. After running through a Philadelphia slum, one-armed push-ups in the gym and then pummelling a hunk of beef in a meat locker, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) returns to the streets, passes a shipyard and runs up the steps fronting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the iconic song "Gonna Fly Now", raising his arms in victory at the summit. Tourists often mimic Rocky's famous climb of the 72 stone steps and boy, is it worth it! At the top is a commanding view of Eakins Oval, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Philadelphia City Hall. You’re sure to feel like a champion!

Harry Potter – Platform 9 3/4, King’s Cross Station, London

In the films based on J.K. Rowling’s books, the Hogwarts Express transports the students to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, departing from Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station, London. So, if you want to follow in the footsteps of Harry and the Gang, head to the western departures concourse; on the right you will see a dedicated area where you can take a photo of yourself with a trolley embedded into the station wall and a sign above which reads Platform 9¾. Just don't try to run through the wall… unless you're in the market for a headache! Trivia note: The author has admitted that when writing the book she was actually thinking of Euston as the real platforms 9 and 10 at King’s Cross don’t bear a great resemblance to what is described in the books.

Wherever you decide to travel, be it to Middle Earth or ‘a galaxy far far away’, Flexicover Direct, the travel insurance specialist, is committed to providing the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.

If you are travelling soon, have a great trip!