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Putting tourism on the throne: Utilising Game of Thrones as a catalyst for film tourism growth in Northern Ireland

Bolan, Peter, Kearney, Matthew and Boluk, Karla (2015) Putting tourism on the throne: Utilising Game of Thrones as a catalyst for film tourism growth in Northern Ireland. In: 11th Annual Tourism and Hospitality Research in Ireland Conference (THRIC), Letterkenny Institiute of Technology. Letterkenny Institiute of Technology. 7 pp. [Conference contribution]

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Northern Ireland’s creative industries have been flourishing in recent years, particularly film and television production with hugely successful shows such as Game of Thrones and major feature films like Universal’s Dracula Untold. There is an urgent need to capitalise on the tourism potential of these productions. Film tourism is now a recognised and lucrative form of tourism on a global basis that can bring enormous opportunities in terms of destination image as well as economic impact and development (£2.1 billion visitor spend/year in the UK is already attributable to film). This paper examines strategic opportunities for destination development and enhancement through a case study on Game of Thrones. The aim of this paper was to investigate the potential that ‘Game of Thrones’ could create for Northern Ireland if positioned appropriately as a television/film tourism destination. More specifically the research sought to investigate the Game of Thrones fan base in addition to evaluating the opinions of key stakeholders in Northern Ireland, particularly a new breed of entrepreneurs willing to invest in this form of tourism. Global online research (netnography) was undertaken with the fan-base of Game of Thrones, further supplemented with analysis of key informant interviews conducted with a number of industry stakeholders who have recently begun Game of Thrones tours and activity based experiences. Findings reveal awareness has been growing that Northern Ireland is the main filming location. The ‘Game of Thrones tourist’ is passionate and demanding in what they seek in terms of tourism experience. They want a themed activity-based experience and are willing to pay for it. Elements of a creative entrepreneurial spirit to cater to these ‘film tourists’ is growing in Northern Ireland, but too slowly to leverage maximum potential (all too reactive rather than proactive). Despite the HBO endorsed NI marketing campaign by Tourism Ireland, promotional efforts overall have been lacking with regard to this form of tourism.

Item Type:Conference contribution (Paper)
Keywords:film tourism, screen tourism, Game of Thrones, experiential tourism
Faculties and Schools:Ulster Business School > Department of International Business
Ulster Business School > Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Ulster Business School
Research Institutes and Groups:Business and Management Research Institute
ID Code:36683
Deposited By: Dr Peter Bolan
Deposited On:23 Jan 2017 16:15
Last Modified:23 Jan 2017 16:15

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