The Game of Travel
Last month, a friend who I don’t particularly consider interesting, told me he returned from a week-long trip to Croatia. Before I could change my low opinion of him, I noticed that several other contacts were booking their mid-year vacations to Croatia, a country they didn’t know much about until a recent addiction to the telly. This struck me as odd; it was definitely more than a case of wanderlust.
So, I decided to investigate. And soon enough, the secret was out. Game of Thrones. The movie has such cult following that season after season, landscapes revealed in the scenes have captured the imagination of the fans: from Iceland and Morocco to Northern Ireland to Malta. The trend is on an uptick and many of you will know it already, getting requests that sound alien but are real business, “Take me to that place where Tyrion and Varys are looking out over the bay in ‘The Prince of Winterfell’.” In plain English it means, “Show me an itinerary with cultural walks in the city of Dubrovnik in Croatia.”
According to some sources, the overall impact on the economy of Ireland, driven in a large way by tourism receipts, has been to the tune of $190 million since production of Game of Thrones began in 2010
If there’s one place that has benefitted the most from the Game of Thrones (GoT) fandom, it has to be Northern Island. Follow the three-eyed raven through Northern Ireland, where crumbling castles and ancient landscapes become key Seven Kingdoms filming locations in GoT. The forests, mountains and moorlands around Northern Ireland are transformed into the scenic backdrops for the most memorable moments of the series. Take the four-day itinerary to explore Northern Ireland GoT territory, complete with authentic experiences and events, such as archery, feasts and boat tours. According to some sources, the overall impact on the economy driven in a large way by tourism receipts has been to the tune of $190 million since production began in 2010. Stoking the rising interest in GoT locations, the mass campaign ‘Journey of Doors’ encourages visitors to travel around the country to visit a number of elaborately carved doors modelled after different episodes from GoT season 6, and to check out the filming locations nearby. This trend is not going to go away anytime soon, GoT is the new ‘Titanic’ draw. Tourism Ireland has entered into a new licensing agreement with HBO that will pay off during the airing of season 7 of GoT. Impressed? Don’t stop there. Here’s more. The Nordic island nation of Iceland with a population of 350,000 – has seen inbound numbers grow exponentially from 500,000 in 2010 to more than 2.4 million tourists expected this year, thanks to GoT. The harsh frozen mounts in Season 2, thermal pools, frozen lava field, you can’t have enough of Iceland if you are GoT-hooked, millions are. Back to Dubrovnik. The historic coastal town is on a double-digit roll, receiving tourists from Korea, Japan and Taiwan. In 2016, the city recorded more than a million international arrivals, an annual growth of 12 percent, largely driven by GoT fandom. If you have a teenager at home, you might be a GoT expert already, but if you are still scratching your head over this, here’s a ready reckoner to inspire your next customer with GoT locations in Croatia and Iceland: CROATIA The City Walls of Dubrovnik, St. Dominic Street, Fort Lovrijenac (Fort of St. Lawrence), Fort Bokar, Pile Gate, Gradac Park, Trsteno Arboretum, Belvedere Atrium, Minčeta Tower, Lokrum Island, Dubac quarry, Diocletian's Palace, Perun quarry. ICELAND Lake Myvatn, Grjotagja, Vatnajokull, Skaftafell, Vik.