Bookings for Game of Thrones destinations in Northern Ireland soar by 112%
A 'Game of Thrones effect' has seen tourism bookings more than double in some Northern Ireland destinations featured in the smash-hit fantasy series.
New research reveals the impact the popular show has had on travel to the region.
Ecommerce firm Criteo analysed nine million bookings from 2019 compared with 2018 to reveal which destinations have seen an increase in tourism thanks to the award-winning show.
The Co Down village of Strangford, with a population of 450, is located close to Castle Ward, the filming location for many scenes in Winterfell.
It saw a 112% increase in travel bookings in early 2019, the research found.
Other small destinations, such as Portrush and Bushmills - where nearby Dunluce Castle appeared in Game of Thrones as 'Pyke Castle' - also saw bookings more than double as hype for the show ramped up.
"The impact of cultural phenomena such as Game of Thrones on travel habits can't be understated," said Criteo's Pauline Lemaire.
"To capitalise on the opportunity, travel companies need to time their strategies to perfection.
"As our data shows, the usual start-of-year travel peak has been strengthened in certain locations by the hype generated by Game of Thrones, starting with its teasers in December and January."
John McGrillen, chief executive of Tourism NI, said Game of Thrones had dramatically "changed the perception of Northern Ireland" as a tourist destination.
He added: "It has been a phenomenal success - and it has been fantastic for Northern Ireland to be associated with this worldwide success over the past 10 years."
The Game of Thrones studio tour is due to open in spring 2020 at the Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge, Co Down.