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Game of Thrones fans flocking to Northern Ireland to have heads cut off (with rubber swords)

By Nevin Farrell

Published 17/08/2015

Lead Game of Thrones tour instructor William Kells 'beheads' a tourist as part of the Winterfell Experience at Castle Ward
Lead Game of Thrones tour instructor William Kells 'beheads' a tourist as part of the Winterfell Experience at Castle Ward
A Game of Thrones fan takes a selfie beside a plaque at Ballintoy Harbour
Taxidermist and Game of Thrones supplier of creature and fur skins Ingrid Houwers pictured in her workshop with some of her creations
Fans are given archery lessons

Game of Thrones tourists are heading to Northern Ireland in their droves to have their photos taken at locations from the show.

It has become a GOT fan must-do to come here and take selfies at places where the show is filmed before uploading them onto the internet to make other 'Thronies' jealous.

It has become so popular, the tourism board has erected noticeboards giving the history of the location and the place it represents in the series.

The visitors are also helping the massive positive effect the series has had on the economy. The hit show has so far brought in tens of millions of pounds in jobs, investment and tourism.

According to figures from Northern Ireland Screen, the HBO-produced fantasy adventure has contributed £110m to the country.

Many local companies have profited from providing services during production, creating more than 900 full-time and 5,700 part-time jobs in the process.

The various locations highlighted on screen have become tourist attractions around the province, and local firms have provided jewellery and even stuffed animals.

Having invested £12.45m in the series since it began in 2010, Northern Ireland Screen reports that £110m has been spent on goods and services as a result of the show.

And between 2010 and 2014, Game of Thrones brought a combined £44m to the Northern Ireland economy.

The 2014-15 period will bring an additional estimated £22m, on an investment of just £1.6m

Game of Thrones continues to prove immensely popular with fans, and while 'come to Northern Ireland and get your head cut off' is not your typical tourism industry approach, it seems to be working with bloodthirsty GOT aficionados.

It is all part of the worldwide appeal of the series, which is largely filmed in Northern Ireland. And its huge popularity means people want to see the sites where filming - and some of the bloodiest atrocities, of which there are many - take place.

The cameras are currently in Glenarm on the Antrim coast road, but tourists from all over the world continue to flock to other sites dotted across Northern Ireland.

Devotees of the programme, which has been criticised for its extreme violence and scenes of rape, are as fanatical as those of other shows such as Star Trek, and will spend a fortune to travel the world visiting locations where their favourite episodes take place.

These include the spooky Dark Hedges and Ballintoy Harbour in Co Antrim.

As part of the Winterfell Experience at Castle Ward in Co Down, where scenes have also been filmed, tourists can take part in archery, but the loser has to put their head on the chopping block for instructor William Kells to perform a, thankfully, fake beheading re-enactment. But there is nothing fake about the enormous impact of the series on the local economy.

Season Six of Game of Thrones is expected to arrive on screens in spring next year.

Belfast Telegraph

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