Game of Thrones tourism brought over $200 million into Croatia

Image: Game of Thrones/HBO
Image: Game of Thrones/HBO /

Tourism inspired by movies and TV shows is a big business, and not just from people who travel to Hollywood to tour studios and see where the magic is made. Plenty of fans go to the actual locations where their favorite shows and movies were filmed. How much money has New Zealand made over the years from Lord of the Rings fans wanting to tour Middle-earth? Outlander fans love touring the moors of Scotland, and Game of Thrones fans have lots of options if they want to visit Westeros.

One of the most popular destinations is Croatia, which Game of Thrones mostly used in the earlier seasons. Most notably, the city of Dubrovnik often stood in for King’s Landing, and who wouldn’t want to go there?

"[NO SPOILERS] For my first cake day (hope I’m using that right) and first post, here’s the real life King’s Landing in Croatia! from gameofthrones"

According to a recent study from the University of Zadar, Game of Thrones tourism brought €180.7 million (around $203.1 million) into Croatia between 2013 and 2018. During the third and fourth seasons of the show, HBO used the Croatian incentive program, which guarantees a refund of 20% of the costs spent during filming in Croatia. “[I]nvesting in the development of the film industry potentially encourages the development of film tourism, which may be an opportunity to reduce the predominance of natural beauties and weather forecast of Croatian tourism,” the paper reads.

"Thanks to Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik has become recognizable as a location at the top of film-inspired tourist destinations…Even assuming that only half of the rise in the number of tourists, or half of the increase in the number of overnight stays at filming locations was a result of the filming of the Game of Thrones series, its impact on Croatian tourism is significant."

Potential problems with Game of Thrones tourism

The development of media tourism is something more and more countries are thinking about, especially as many post-Game of Thrones shows also make extensive use of location shooting. Of course, there are potential drawbacks. For one, if you’re incentive program is too generous, you eventually cross a line where you’re giving away more than you’re getting back. And once the tourism sector does take off, over-crowding can be a problem.

And in the midst of the pandemic, the tourism industry is experiencing another problem: lack of labor. “Some 100,000 people work in the tourist sector and we are missing some 30,000 to 35,000 people,” tourism industry representative Veljko Ostojic told Reuters. “The tourist businesses have no time to wait and many have kicked off campaigns to seek skilled people.”

Despite such difficulties, the rush for tourism dollars is likely here to stay. We’ll see if House of the Dragon stirs any renewed interest when the Game of Thrones prequel premieres on HBO in 2022.

Next. George R.R. Martin’s original plan for A Song of Ice and Fire, revealed. dark

To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and sign up for our exclusive newsletter.

Get HBO, Starz, Showtime and MORE for FREE with a no-risk, 7-day free trial of Amazon Channels