‘Game of Thrones’ Might be Fantasy, But its Economic Impact on Northern Ireland is Very Real

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Winter is coming to Westeros and Essos, but the forecast in Northern Ireland is looking bright.

It may always be raining in Northern Ireland, but as far as historians are concerned, the country has never had to deal with white walkers, dragons, or seasons that last for years. But the island nation sure has seen its fair share of turmoil and conflicts. In fact, during the twentieth century, the period from 1968 to 1998 is referred to as The Troubles. The prolonged unrest in the country caused its economy to fall.

Thanks in part to a book series that has been successfully turned into a TV hit show called Game of Thrones, the economy of Northern Ireland is finally looking up.

Known as the King’s Landing in the world of Game of Thrones, the Dark Hedges in Bally has become a popular spot for tourists visiting the area.

The battle for the Iron Throne has resulted to an economic boom to Northern Ireland.

An good amount of £110 million (~$170 million) is the approximate amount the Game of Thrones brought to Northern Ireland’s economy in the last five years.

Around 900 full-time and 5,700 part-time jobs in the area were created because of the HBO show. The series is responsible for creating jobs like catering, hospitality, and other accommodation services. Also many locals were employed as film crews, production assistants, and as local artisans.

Tourists can visit “Winterfell” or Castle Ward and have a chance to interact with some of the actors of the show.

The country spent about £12.45 million (~$19 million) in subsidies and incentives to have the show be shot in their area. The show’s producers actually planned to film in Scotland. In fact, they shot the pilot episode of the show there. It turns out, paying to bring the show in the country was a good investment.

It also helped to bring the show in the country when the Northern Ireland Screen, a government agency, invested in Northern Ireland’s budding film industry. The agency invested about £14 million (~$22 million) for building movie studios in Belfast. The location is where GoT now films, and it is also where the real RMS Titanic was built.

Ballintoy Harbour, known as the Iron Islands on the show, has also become a tourist spot for Game of Thrones fans.

The positive impact of the show extends well beyond the production itself. The natives of the country can attest to that.

One of the locals who benefit from the show is Ingrid Houwers, a professional taxidermist and silversmith. She provides furs and animal jewelry for the characters in Game of Thrones. Thanks to the attention and publicity that she is getting from the show, her business is booming.

Pictured below is Ingrid Houwers surrounded with her array of pretty dead things.

In Glenarm, Steensons Jewellers’ Lauren Wethers, a goldsmith, is putting the finishing touches on a Dire Wolf sterling silver brooch.

It is very easy to see the positive impact of the show in Northern Ireland even though Game of Thrones is also filming in other international locations.

The hit series’ production helped in enhancing the local culture and community by giving the locals a chance to afford living in the country and offering them an opportunity to contribute to their own economy. Local residents love those well-paid random Hollywood jobs that can help them subsidize their incomes during slower seasons.

These facts may not help ease your worries about George R.R. Martin killing off your favorite character, at least you know that things behind the scenes are looking better than ever.

A little trivia: Robb Stark’s camp on the show is called Audley’s Castle in real life.

That’s it. Don’t forget to visit Northern Ireland, and more importantly, don’t forget to tip your tour guide.

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