Almost 20 journalists from around the world visited Northern Ireland over the weekend, to explore some of the locations used in filming the hit HBO TV series, Games of Thrones.
Tourism Ireland timed the visit to coincide with the return of the long-awaited fourth season of Game of Thrones (which started on Sky Atlantic UK last week), to help the journalists – from GB, the US, France, Germany, the Nordics, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, China and Brazil – write about the ‘real’ Northern Ireland and what is on offer here for fans of the show, to whet the appetites of those fans to indulge their fascination for the series and come here to explore the landscapes and locations which feature in the various scenes.
The group’s itinerary, designed by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, took them on a tour which included stops at the Dark Hedges near Ballymoney, Cushendun, Cairncastle, Glenarm and Ballintoy. Before heading along the Causeway Coastal Route, the writers spent time in Belfast, where they visited the SS Nomadic, toured Titanic Belfast and enjoyed the tastes and smells of St George’s Market. The final day saw the group visit Tollymore Forest Park, Inch Abbey and Castle Ward in Co Down.
This media visit is another way in which Tourism Ireland uses popular films and TV shows to maximise interest in Northern Ireland overseas. Tourism Ireland also recently launched an advertising and social media campaign, in conjunction with Game of Thrones creators, HBO, to promote Northern Ireland for holidays across the world. The campaign is being rolled out by Tourism Ireland this month (until mid-June), through ads on Facebook and Twitter, to leverage the huge global popularity of Game of Thrones and its strong associations with Northern Ireland – the physical and spiritual home of the series, where much of the filming takes place.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “TV and film are recognised as strong influencers on prospective visitors, so media visits like these are another great opportunity to shine a spotlight on Northern Ireland. Game of Thrones fans worldwide will see the articles these journalists write and publish, spiking their curiosity about the landscapes and locations featured in the series and inspiring them to come and explore them for themselves.”