Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Game of Thrones pumped £43m into Northern Ireland's economy, and more could be on the way

On the map: the hit starring Lena Headey has brought the likes of Ballintoy to a world audience
On the map: the hit starring Lena Headey has brought the likes of Ballintoy to a world audience
HBO's 'Game of Thrones' which stars Sean Bean, Michelle Fairley and Iain Glen

It's a fantasy set in medieval times about the violent struggle of two dynasties.

But Game of Thrones is having a striking impact in the modern real world of harsh economics.

For the hit Home Box Office series has generated a direct spend in the Northern Ireland economy of £43m, Industry Minister Arlene Foster has revealed.

And another season — the third — is on the way with the prospect of even more in future.

The £43m is a more than six-fold increase on the original £6.5m injected by Invest NI to secure the original pilot and the first two seasons.

It breaks down into the wages and salaries of the resident cast and crew, hotel bills, the hire of facilities, transport, and the construction costs for shoots in some of the province’s most beautiful locations.

Tourism Ireland and the NI Tourist Board are using the series to showcase some of the best attractions, including the north coast and the Mourne mountains.

And Ms Foster revealed the programme is giving Northern Ireland the biggest worldwide exposure it has ever achieved outside of politics and the Troubles.

“Throughout its lifespan it is likely that Game of Thrones will deliver the widest media exposure Northern Ireland has ever achieved outside of politics and the Troubles,” she said in an Assembly answer.

“Tourism Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board have, through this drama series, the opportunity to showcase many tourist attractions including the north coast, Castle Ward, the Mourne mountains, and Ballintoy to name but a few.

“In addition Invest NI and Northern Ireland Screen are utilising Game of Thrones in their international sales pitch.

“The credibility of association with international projects of this nature and scale has significant added value potential for the Northern Ireland economy,” she added.

In a number of responses to her party colleague, David McIlveen, the Trade and Enterprise Minister said: “Northern Ireland Screen is also working with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Tourism Ireland to explore opportunities to showcase Northern Ireland from a tourism perspective on the back of Game of Thrones.

“(It) continues to market Northern Ireland as a key production centre through advertising in key trade publications and attendance at key screen industry trade events.”

And Ms Foster added: “HBO has recently announced that series three of Game of Thrones will also film in Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Screen is currently in advanced discussions with the award -winning US broadcaster to secure the maximum economic benefits possible for Northern Ireland from this forthcoming production.”

Story so far

The runaway success of Game of Thrones has put Northern Ireland on the world stage. The realisation of George R R Martin’s series of fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire became a cult hit — and is reported to be the most pirated TV series of 2012. The first season was nominated for 13 of the American Emmy awards last year and won two. The third season was confirmed just nine days after the second series premiered.

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