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How a global phenomenon transformed NI into a screen tourism destination

TOURISM NI has launched a new publication celebrating Northern Ireland’s links to the most successful series in television history.

From fantasy lands to fire-breathing dragons, Game of Throne has ignited a tourism frenzy which has injected millions of pounds into our economy.

The Making of a Screen Tourism Destination chronicles how Game of Thrones has helped to transform tourism in Northern Ireland and how the giant spirit of this land gave life to the make-believe continent of Westeros.

It also outlines how production of the global phenomenon generated £251million for the local economy. In 2018 alone, it helped attract one in every six out-of-state visitors to Northern Ireland which amounts to approximately 350,000 people and a spend of over £50million.

The publication has been showcased today during Tourism Ireland’s virtual Publicity Conference, co-hosted by Tourism Northern Ireland.

Tourism NI Director of Business Support and Events, Áine Kearney said the impact Game of Thrones has had on local tourism has been remarkable.

She said: “For ten years, HBO and Game of Thrones made Northern Ireland their home and we are very proud of that. Northern Ireland’s people, atmospheric heritage and stunning locations became part of the show’s soul.

“Today, visitors from around the world can travel across Northern Ireland’s beautiful and inspiring landscape and have the opportunity to see exactly why Northern Ireland was chosen as the breathtaking setting for Game of Thrones.”

Recognising the endless appetite for the series, Tourism NI has worked closely with HBO, Tourism Ireland and Northern Ireland Screen to engage with the fans.

Áine continued, “It is fantastic to see Northern Ireland Screen, the lead agency for our film and TV production sector, work so closely the tourism agencies to continue to celebrate the amazing impact the show has had on the tourism sector in Northern Ireland. HBO also played an integral role in helping Northern Ireland capitalise on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become Game of Thrones Territory.”

Bespoke interpretive panels, a filming locations app as well as a collection of visitor guides showcasing the spectacular filming locations have been created. In addition, the ten intricately crafted Doors of Thrones, the now famous Game of Thrones Tapestry and the six beautiful stained glass window installations, Glass of Thrones, were developed.

Áine Kearney said: “Northern Ireland’s cultural and industrial heritage in stained glass production is world renowned and the stained glass installations on The Glass of Thrones trail give tourists another unique way to explore the Game of Thrones story in Northern Ireland and immerse themselves in Northern Ireland’s rich artistic heritage.

“Everywhere you stand in Northern Ireland, you can hear history echo through castle walls or whisper through the glens and hills. So, when fans get to stand where iconic show characters stood, it brings Game of Thrones more alive than any TV screen ever could and we are excited to continue to share that as Northern Ireland takes its place as an outstanding screen tourism destination.”

Mark Henry, Tourism Ireland’s Central Marketing Director, said: “The phenomenal popularity of Game of Thrones has provided a fantastic opportunity for Tourism Ireland to leverage Northern Ireland’s connection with the series. As overseas tourism restarts, Tourism Ireland will continue to highlight Northern Ireland around the world, reminding people that Northern Ireland is ‘Game of Thrones Territory’.

“We will also harness the opportunities presented by the new Game of Thrones Studio Tour at the Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge. Our aim is to spike fans’ curiosity about the landscapes and locations featured in the series and inspire them to come and explore them for themselves.”

Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen, said; “Northern Ireland Screen is incredibly proud to see Game of Thrones live on with the amazing screen tourism legacy it has left behind. For many years fans from near and far have sought out and enjoyed visiting the many public locations featured in the show.

“It’s now really exciting that Linen Mill Studios is soon to become open to the public as a Game of Thrones visitor experience. We’ll continue to work with Tourism NI and Tourism Ireland to celebrate the amazing impact the show has had and explore any new opportunities that may arise.”

This epic journey is set to continue for years to come with the highly awaited new Game of Thrones Studio Tour at Linen Mill Studios, Banbridge, the first permanent licensed Game of Thrones experience in the world.

n To read The Making of a Screen Tourism Destination visit www.tourismni.com/gameofthrones

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