Game of Thrones has brought in £110 million to Northern Ireland’s economy


The Game of Thrones production team is filming in Northern Ireland this week, something it’s done since the show’s first season. With the possible exception of Croatia, Game of Thrones is more closely identified with Northern Ireland than any other area of the world, and has pumped a lot of money into the local economy since it started filming there in 2010. London-based newspaper The Times has some of the exact numbers.

The Times reports that Game of Thrones has brought approximately £110 million into Northern Ireland over the last five years. (That’s around $171 million U.S. dollars.) A lot of that is in the form of payments to local film professionals. The show has created around 900 full-time jobs and 5,700 part-time jobs in the area, so you can imagine how much of their wages have found their way into the real estate market, local businesses, and more. Catering and accommodation businesses have also seen a boost, since people on sets gotta eat and visiting actors gotta sleep somewhere.

Squint real hard, and this image of a set in Northern Ireland’s Magheramorne quarry looks just like the area north of the Wall.

A lot of these numbers come from Northern Ireland Screen, the government-backed agency responsible for developing the television, film, and digital content industries in the area. According to The Times, the agency has invested around £12.45 million ($20 million U.S. dollars) in the series since it began, and the incentives were was one of the reasons HBO decided to film in Northern Ireland rather than in Scotland (where it shot part of the pilot episode) during the infancy of the series. The presence of a large film studio—Titanic Studios—in Belfast was also a plus.

Northern Ireland has capitalized on the huge popularity of Game of Thrones by setting up sightseeing tours, pulling promotional stunts, and even attempting to preserve the Castle Black and Wall sets in Magheramorne quarry so they can become permanent tourist attractions. Tourists are eating it up, too—The Belfast Telegraph reports that travelers who visit Castle Ward, where scenes at Winterfell have been shot, are fond of posing for photos in which people dressed in Game of Thrones garb chop their heads off (with rubber swords, of course).

Basically, Northern Ireland has been handed a whole lot of lemons and is making a ton of lemonade. It’ll be interesting to see how it keeps up after Game of Thrones has finally wrapped production.

Next: Game of Thrones production is beginning prep for filming in the Spanish city of Girona