Game of Thrones fans are overwhelming the city of Dubrovnik, the real-life King’s Landing

Photo: Edwardwexler. License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Photo: Edwardwexler. License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. /

Hollywood choosing to film a movie or television show in your hometown is usually a boon, with the hundreds of cast and crew members pumping money into the local economy and raising the city’s profile. However, there can be a downside. According to The New York Times, the city of Dubrovnik, Croatia, which has stood in for King’s Landing for years, is overwhelmed by ardent Game of Thrones fans each summer, resulting in overcrowding in the picturesque city of roughly 42,000 people.

The sheer number of tourists, including those not interested in Thrones, has led the city to take measures that its officials hope will ease the immense disruption caused by their presence. Dubrovnik is attempting to limit the number of passengers that can disembark from cruise ships, scaling back the number of outdoor tables at restaurants, and more.

Dubrovnik mayor Mato Frankovic appears committed to combating the issue. “There is no unique solution for every destination,” he said. “But it has to start with recognizing the problem.” The numbers remain eye-popping, however. According to the Times, there were around 300 tours related to the show in 2015, but in 2017 it skyrocketed to 4,500 tours. Now, in 2018, that number is up 180 percent.

And while they’re encroaching on the beautiful old city, the tourists are asking some silly questions. Tour guide Katja Seref says a constant question she gets asked is how long it took HBO to build Dubrovnik’s city walls. She politely informs them the walls and defenses date as far back as the 13th century. Seref also revealed that once, during filming, an unnamed actress asked that “all the pretty Croatian girls be replaced with uglier ones,” so she wouldn’t be upstaged. Yikes.

Despite the problems “over-tourism” has caused, Seref does say the city has a good relationship with Hollywood, albeit complicated. She complimented HBO for the respect the crew of Game of Thrones has shown Dubrovnik, and that for six years now, the show has provided a much-needed boost when the lean winter season rolls around, and the streets are once again empty.

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