New literary tourism: read it, watch it, live it

Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:49pm EDT
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By Harriet McLeod

(Reuters) - Fans of "The Hunger Games" will soon have a chance to channel the survivalist spirit of the novel's heroine by zip-lining through a North Carolina forest and taking classes in camouflage, archery, making fire and shelter-building.

The woodsy, adrenalin-pumping experiences move beyond traditional tourism for fans of books and the movies they inspire, targeting enthusiasts whose passion wants another portal.

"We call this fandemonium," said Tammy Hopkins, co-founder of The Hunger Games Fan Tours in Brevard. "These are the super fans. They want to see the film locations, but they also want to experience what their favorite character experiences in the movie."

The touch of Hollywood-style adventure is the newest spin on a long tradition of literary tourism packages and events across the U.S. South, a region rich in an American literary legacy that includes William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams.

In North Carolina, where the movie based on the popular young adult novel "The Hunger Games" was filmed, the state tourism division developed a travel itinerary of movie-related settings and activities from Charlotte to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The itinerary notes where actors ate in Asheville and suggests zip-lining through the canopy of Pisgah National Forest, for a closer, more thrilling glimpse of the film's setting. It has been viewed nearly 20,000 times since being posted online on March 5, said Margo Metzger, spokeswoman for the Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development.

Hopkins and business partner Leigh Trapp, who has led Harry Potter tours in the United Kingdom and "Twilight" tours in the Pacific Northwest, are selling day tours of DuPont State Recreational Forest and weekend packages at a mountain lodge that include a variety of adventure activities.

"Everybody I know has read the book," Hopkins said. "We're getting lots of calls from grandmas and grandpas whose grandkids turned them on to the book."   Continued...

A woman draws on a bow beside a stream at DuPont State Recreational Forest in this undated handout released to Reuters on April 17, 2012. REUTERS/Bill Russ/North Carolina Division of Tourism Sports and Film Development/Handout