Barclays has been appointed the new corporate banking partner for NI's newest tourism attraction, Linen Mill Studios, after agreeing a £10m loan.
Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge was one of the locations for the filming of HBO globally acclaimed and award-winning TV series, Game of Thrones, which is set to open this summer as a tourism experience.
The launch will coincide with the 10th anniversary of Game of Thrones.
The tour will be another stop for "set-jetters" - fans of the fantasy TV series who - pre-Covid - flocked to spots like Ballintoy Harbour, Castle Ward and the Dark Hedges to follow in the footsteps of its characters.
It's being developed under licence with WarnerMedia and will turn the 10,000 square metre film studio into an interactive visitor attraction housing set pieces, props and costumes from the series. The tour will also promote the creative industries behind Game of Thrones.
The deal between Barclays and the attraction represents a £10m term loan, which will part-fund the £36.5m development.
Linen Mill Studios is owned by two family-run businesses, Northern Ireland group John Hogg and Company and US-based Stephens family of Stephens Inc. The development is due to complete in summer. It's tipped to provide a boost to the economy and tourism industry.
The attraction is expected to bring in 600,000 visitors a year and help generate around £400m of tourism revenue over a 10-year period for Northern Ireland, supporting almost 200 jobs.
Barclays relationship director Gavin Campbell said: "Given our international footprint we have always believed that Barclays was the ideal banking partner for this global project and we are delighted that we could support Linen Mill Studios in this exciting development.
"Our relationship model, which brings industry expertise, has already added value to the project and we will continue to provide operational accounts and industry support as the team continues to build out its processes.
"We have been impressed by the management team's dedication and foresight to deliver an eco-friendly, world-class attraction which will celebrate the impact Game of Thrones has had on Northern Ireland."
Andrew Webb, director of Linen Mill Studios, said: "With Barclays' support, we are now gathering momentum towards opening one of the most exciting visitor attractions in Northern Ireland's history later this year.
"Just the prospect of a Game of Thrones Studio Tour has already generated huge excitement and interest among fans around the world and we expect our opening to play a significant part in underpinning Northern Ireland's economy and rejuvenating the tourism sector on the island of Ireland in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic."
Linen Mill Studios also secured £3.5m of funding through Whiterock Finance's Growth Finance Fund and Growth Loan Fund II.
Last year it emerged it also been also allocated £10m in the form of a loan from the Department for the Economy. Details were included in a September NI Audit Office report on Covid-19 spending.