Reality TV show ‘Survivor’ isn’t just a big win for CBS, it also brings in big tourism dollars to each season’s location.
The show, now on its 35th (!!!) season, pits players against one another in a foreign and isolated location, with a mix of rules and twists to keep the show’s premise interesting and less “solvable” by new cast members trying to clone previous strategies that have worked to win. The show maintains healthy viewership, with millions tuning in each season to watch the competition. It turns out these millions of people are then often convinced to visit the show’s various beautiful locations.
There has been commentary that the show brings in new tourism for the location so we got curious about how much the show has affected tourist growth in each of the show’s locations. We found staggering data suggesting that the show can turn a quiet location into a bustling tourist destination.
When tourism data was available from local tourism office websites as well as outbound travel data from the US Travel and Trade, we were able to pull numbers that revealed the following statistics:
- On average, ‘Survivor’ increases tourism to these unique locations and nearby attractions by upwards of 35%.
- Sabah, Malaysia, in 1999 had about 400,000 reported tourist visits. The ten years following the first season of Survivor saw exponential growth, including in 2011, over 2.2 million people visiting the city nearest the show’s location.
- Other already more popular tourist destinations like Panama still saw increases around 20-25% following the season’s airing.
- According to the data we could find, the tourism boosts keep increasing for 22-34 months (20-75% deviation) and then flattened out, but never returned to “pre-Survivor” levels, signifying that the increases are sustained.
- Locations where the show aired more than once saw the most sustained growth.
Below you’ll find a complete list of locations for the show:
|Continent (Number of Appearances)||Country (Season Number)|
|Africa (2)||Kenya (3), Gabon (17)|
|Asia (9)||Malaysia (1), Thailand (5), China (15), Philippines (25, 26, 27, 28), Cambodia (31, 32)|
|Oceania (15)||Australia (2), French Polynesia (4), Vanuatu (9), Palau (10, 16), Cook Islands (13), Fiji (14, 33, 34, 35, 36), Samoa (19, 20, 23, 24)|
|Central America (8)||Panama (7, 8, 12), Guatemala (11), Nicaragua (21, 22, 29, 30)|
|South America (2)||Brazil (6, 18)|
Notably too, this trend line does seem to follow along with economic prosperity in developed countries. For example, during The Great Recession, numbers decreased accordingly, while during the past several years of growth, total travel has increased.
Another thing worth mentioning, is that travel overall has increased globally, as internet access has made travel planning to more exotic locations easier than ever.
Regardless, for all future locations of Survivor, be prepared for an influx of tourists!