A small logging town in the U.S. has seen an astonishing 1000 percent increase in tourism thanks to the vampire blockbuster saga Twilight.
Forks, in Washington, is the setting for a story about the romance between vampire Edward Cullen – played by British actor Robert Pattinson – and Bella Swan – acted by Kristen Stewart.
The second installment in the series – New Moon – also features Taylor Lautner as werewolf Jacob Black and is released in UK cinemas on November 20.
The movies – based on a series of books by U.S. author Stephanie Meyer – have captured the collective imagination of filmgoers around the world, sending them to Forks in search of the reality behind the fiction.
There were more visitors during June and July than in the whole of 2008 – unsurprising as Twilight fans can fully immerse themselves in the town’s association with the film’s characters.
They can visit Bella’s school, Dr Cullen’s hospital, the police station and have their picture taken with the Forks sign.
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Local shops sell ‘Bella Burgers’ and a Twilight-themed restaurant is set to open.
The costal town of Port Angeles is where Bella and Edward enjoyed their first date at Bella Italia, fans can eat mushroom ravioli and drink a glass of blood-red ‘Twilight wine’, produced at a local winery.
There is also the opportunity to visit the Quileute Indian Reserve, home to Jacob.
At La Push, visitors can experience traditional Native American culture, listening to stories and taking part in activities which include drumming classes.
Forks has even created a Stephanie Meyer Day in honour of the author, which falls on the date of Bella’s birthday – September 12.
Tourists are not only attracted by the Twilight link – the Olympic Peninsula region is sandwiched between the Olympic mountains and Pacific Ocean.
It is an area of natural beauty, boasting saltwater shores, alpine meadows and lush valleys.
The peninsula is also home to the temperate Hoh Rainforest and thrillseekers can kayak or raft on the River Hoh.
There are also miles of coastline to explore, including the famously picturesque Ruby Beach, along with waterfalls and hiking trails. And for a taste of city life, Seattle is a short ferry ride away.
Washington State Tourism Commission executive director Marsha Massey said: ‘We’re thrilled about the surge of interest that Washington’s beautiful Olympic Peninsula is receiving from fans of the Twilight series.
‘Visitors from all over the world are experiencing our state for the first time and in a very magical way – seeing where Bella and Edward met, eating where they had their first date and hiking through the National Park where they hiked.’
Tourism chiefs have set up a dedicated page for fans planning to visit the town – www.experiencewa.com/twilight.
There will be a number of events in Forks and its surrounds to mark New Moon, starting on November 20. For a full list, visit www.twilightontheolympicpeninsula.com.