TV's "Game of Thrones" inspires global destination wanderlust
Searches for Iceland are up 285% since 2014, when the HBO TV series started to take the world by storm, according to data from Hotels.com
As the long-awaited premiere of the seventh season of "Game of Thrones" descends upon fans in the Middle East, online accommodation booking website Hotels.com has reported a dramatic hike in searches to the global destinations featured in the series.
Since it first aired on HBO in 2011, "Game of Thrones" has grown to become one of the most popular shows on the planet, with each episode of its sixth season attracting 23 million viewers worldwide, as per HBO data.
To illustrate how popular culture can be instrumental in driving tourism business, in the same way the "Lord of the Rings" film franchise led to a tourism boom in New Zealand and, most recently, how the Justin Bieber collaboration "Despacito" drove an increase in bookings to Puerto Rico, these are the destinations that have featured most heavily throughout the seasons, including those that are anticipated to appear in season seven, with search data provided by Hotels.com:
Iceland, which plays host to arguably the series' iconic 'The Wall' and the lands beyond, has enjoyed the most dramatic surge in searches. The destination is up over 285% since 2014, when the show mania truly began to take the world by storm. The upward trend continues for the destination as year-on-year (2017 vs 2016) data shows a 30% surge for those eager to walk in the footsteps of the show's hero Jon Snow, where he battles wildlings and 'White Walkers'.
A number of destinations in Croatia, another key filming location and the site of the show's fictional Westerosi capital and seat of power of the scheming Cersei Lanniser 'King's Landing', have also enjoyed a tourism boom. The ancient city of Split on the Dalmatian coast has seen an uplift of nearly 120% in searches. Fans of Daenerys Targaryen enjoy touring the city's walled Diocletian's Palace, the site of the 'Mother of Dragons' throne room. The less well-known Croatian city of Sibenik, which stands in for 'Braavos', has enjoyed a similar lift with hotel searches up 60%.
Seville in Spain has experienced a surge in searches by up to 145%, after being featured prominently as 'Dorne', to showcase the 'Sand Vipers' and the palace of 'House Martell' .
Having featured in almost all seasons, the northern end of the Emerald Isle is rumoured to be the focal point of the seventh season, with searches for Belfast hotels up nearly 120% ahead of the season premiere.
The ancient city of Essaouira is the filming site for 'Astapor', the home of the 'Unsullied Army', with an old Portuguese fortification by the sea as the site of most of the filming. Also in Morocco, located between Marrakech and the Sahara and made entirely of clay, Ait Benhaddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was chosen as the filming location for the slave trading city of 'Yunkai'.