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Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in Twilight

At the height of the Twilight craze ten years ago, Forks, Washington became a massive tourist attraction for fans of Stephenie Meyer’s series centered on a forbidden vampire-human romance. 72,000 people reportedly visited the small town of 3,200 that year, a destination that was essentially a gas stop one might pass through before anyone knew the names Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. With the recent release of Midnight Sun, struggling small business owners are hoping interest will peak again for Bella’s hometown.

The long-awaited fifth installment in the Twilight saga, Midnight Sun, retells Edward and Bella’s beginnings as a couple from the century-old vampire's perspective and has quickly become a bestseller. One week into its release, the novel has soared to No. 1 on the Amazon most sold charts. In light of this resurgence in interest for the franchise, Forks business owners and locals shared their hopes for their town's struggling economy to have a tourism boost too, per CNN.

Since Forks’ big boom in 2010m coinciding with the release of the third movie, Eclipse, its yearly visitors have been cut in half. Charlene Leppell, the owner of Leppell's Flowers & Gifts, expressed her optimism for Midnight Sun to “spark their interest” to visit the real-life fictional town where the romance famously takes place. However, the 2008 movie starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson was shot in Oregon and British Columbia.

Forks has certainly become a central hub for fans of the massive book series to flock to ever since Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight came out in 2005. There is an annual festival dedicated to celebrating Bella’s birthday on September 13 called the Forever Twilight in Forks Festival, which is expected to continue this year between September 10 and 13. When guests visit the town, they can find diner items inspired by the series and merchandise that say things like "I was bitten in Forks."

In the past few years however, interest in Twilight tourism has shifted. As Leppell described:

At one point, the whole bottom part of my store was Twilight. Now half of my store is Twilight merchandise. I imagine in the next five years, there's probably going to be just one little corner.

The Miller Tree Inn Bed and Breakfast, which attracted fans since it reportedly inspired Stephenie Meyer’s vision for the Cullen clan home, has seen a 60% fall in bookings, per its innkeeper, Susan Brager. Along with dwindling Twilight tourism, the timber town is facing a rise in unemployment due to current events. The county it belongs to suffered almost 18.8% in peak unemployment before leveling out to 10.9% in June.

Fans did band together in May to support the Forks Community Hospital during the pandemic. Many tourism businesses are certainly feeling the effects of the health crisis, including Disney Parks. Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more movie and entertainment updates.

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