It's not just Ren Faire enthusiasts and Irish-American grandparents who want to vacation on the Emerald Isle anymore, and for that, you can thank Game of Thrones, which films partly outside Belfast. Suddenly the HBO drama is the hottest way to market Ireland as a destination—because doesn't Westeros seem like a darling getaway?
Cut to a party of beaten-down tourists slogging through ankle-deep mud in icy, briny rain, while an Irishman doing his best Sean Bean impression bellows something about winter.
USA Today reports that Crystal Cruises is trumpeting a half-day shore excursion for travelers on its luxury liner routes that pass by Northern Ireland. $289 gets you an afternoon roaming the countryside outside Belfast, exploring shooting locations, posing in costumes from the show and trying out archery. (Just remember if you were an actual Game of Thrones character you'd probably die in a gruesome bow-and-arrow "accident," so, proceed with caution.)
"Both show fans, and those who've never seen an episode, can immerse themselves in a fascinating, fantasy world, while connecting with the beautiful history and countryside of Northern Ireland in a very unique way," boasted a company man in the press releaseannouncing the move. Because nothing interesting ever happened in Northern Ireland before Game of Thrones.
Nor is this the only attempt to cash in on the show's popularity. According to Skift, Tourism Ireland spent months wheedling permission for a Game of Thrones-themed ad campaign out of HBO. Ireland dot com now has an entire landing page devoted to shooting locations. Filming locations in Croatia are getting the same treatment, with travel agencies putting together tours of big sights, and Iceland offers the chance to go "Beyond the Wall." Don't laugh, though. As Quartz points out, this was actually a very successful strategy for New Zealand in the wake of The Lord of the Rings.
No word whether Medieval Times is seeing the same boost.
Photo via HBO.