NI quarry used to film Game of Thrones could become tourist draw 'to rival Titanic'
A Game of Thrones filming location outside Larne could be developed into a flagship tourist attraction to rival Titanic Belfast, according to DUP MP Sammy Wilson.
Magheramorne Quarry, which has doubled as The Wall and the Wildling village of Hardhome in HBO's hit fantasy drama, is a magnet for tourists, with coach tours regularly passing the closed set.
Such is the interest that security has been ramped up at the site in recent months, with concrete slabs and warning signs erected to shield filming from prying eyes.
Permission to develop film studios, an all-Ireland diving centre, World Cycling Centre and 450-dwelling harbour village was granted in 2009.
The ambitious development would also incorporate a heritage railway, bird-watching and interpretation centre and visitor accommodation. However, no specific plans to capitalise upon Game of Thrones' legacy have so far been confirmed.
Mr Wilson revealed that he has written to the chief executive of HBO, the Department of the Economy and Mid and East Antrim Council to discuss how to maximise the site's potential, but says that the political stalemate is hampering the development of such projects. He said: "The Magheramorne Quarry site is set to be opened up to the public when the cycle centre and diving school are developed, so it would be a massive coup if visitors could see the Game of Thrones set at the same time," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"Titanic Belfast is a good example of the interest which a film project can create. There is easily the same level of interest in Game of Thrones as there is in Titanic, and Game of Thrones also has an international following. It would be negligent not to try to capitalise on that, and we need local government and the Department for the Economy to try to ensure that it is capitalised on.
"You only have to look at the amount of tourists visiting the Dark Hedges to see how popular such an attraction would be. We want to develop a tourist trail starting at Carrick Castle and leading to the Gobbins, Magheramorne Quarry and on round the coast."
A spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Council said that the redevelopment of Magheramorne Quarry was one of the options discussed during a meeting between Mr Wilson and council chief executive Anne Donaghy, adding that while there is currently no planning application in place, the council is keen that all options are explored to redevelop the site.
No response had been received from the Department for the Economy or Magheramorne Quarry's owners at the time of going to press.