Fans Rejoice as GOT returns to the screens while tourism in the North soars.
April 2019 heralded the much-anticipated return of HBO smash-hit television series Game of Thrones (GOT).
The American fantasy show first aired in 2011 and has gone on to become a cult classic with millions tuning in across the globe.
The TV series follows the trials and tribulations of the most powerful families of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros who fight to rule.
Shot largely on location in Northern Ireland, GOT has leased a new life on the territory that sits at the tip of Ireland.
While many visitors to the North of Ireland are attracted by stunning landscapes and wild nature, Game of Thrones fans are now dominating the tourist sector. In fact, bookings for Game of Thrones sites and filming locations have soared by up to a whopping 112%.
While research tracking tourism patterns is as common as day, the newfound results expose the direct impact of GOT on Northern Ireland’s tourism sector.
Although this may not come as such a shock to those who have experienced the throngs of die-hard fans who flock to the North in search of epic photo-ops first-hand, the numbers are indeed staggering.
The study, which was conducted by e-commerce firm Criteo compared nine million bookings in 2019 in comparison to those made in 2018.
Located in County Down, the small-scale village of Strangford – with a population of only 450 residents – saw a whopping 112% increase in bookings. This real-life rural village is close-by to the many filming locations used in the series.
Other townships such as Portrush and Bushmills saw a boost in bookings from the tourism sector spurred on by Game of Thrones, also.
Although Northern Ireland has many thriving cultural hubs, the land is laden with remote stretches of wild landscapes and rural villages.
The boost in tourism is bound to have a positive impact on the local economy, as long as it is managed responsibly and with respect for residents of the North.
Pauline Lemaire of Criteo says, “The impact of cultural phenomena such as Game of Thrones on travel habits can’t be understated.”
“To capitalise on the opportunity, travel companies need to time their strategies to perfection. As our data shows, the usual start-of-year travel peak has been strengthened in certain locations by the hype generated by Game of Thrones, starting with its teasers in December and January.”
Chief executive of Tourism NI, John McGrillen added, in reference to the impact GOT has had on tourism in Northern Ireland, “It has been a phenomenal success – and it has been fantastic for Northern Ireland to be associated with this worldwide success over the past 10 years”