Game of Thrones Fans Flocking to Northern Ireland, Film Locations as Tourist Destinations

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By Riza Ornos | July 1, 2014 8:46 AM EST

Currently on its fifth season, HBO's epic fantasy series "Game of Thrones" is helping boosts North Ireland's economy by sending its fans to its film locations that is now converted into the country's top tourist destinations. Now known as the fictional land of Westeros, GOT is boosting Northern Ireland's economy that is still healing from its past political violence.

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Cast member Peter Dinklage arrives for the season four premiere of the HBO series "Game of Thrones" in New York in this March 18, 2014, file photo. The blood-filled finale of the fourth season of HBO's fantasy series "Game of Thrones" was watched by 7.1 million viewers, the network said on Monday, topping the 5.4 million people who watched last season's closing episode.

Avid "Game of Thrones" fans will be treated with its vast landscape and breathtaking views used to film the castle of Winterfell, King's Road leading to the north and the seaside cliffs of the Iron Isles. According to The Journal, there are "about 75% of the show is filmed in Northern Ireland, both in natural settings and in the Titanic Studios in Belfast."

Even the Queen herself, Queen Elizabeth II couldn't resist but visit the set of GOT as she toured the studio and was greeted by the show's creator D.B. Weiss and David Benioff. Since the show started filming in 2009, the country's gorgeous locations has attracted Hollywood productions and thousands of fans from around the globe made Ireland their country of destination whenever they are in Europe.

Now Ireland has used the show's popularity to increase the number of tourists and is projecting to have two million or more visitors by 2016, from the average visitors of 1.8 million in 2013. Because of the thriving tourism, the show helped alleviate the problem of unemployment and based on reports, "HBO is estimated to have spent about £87.6 million in the local economy making the show."

"HBO were a big catalyst in changing perceptions of what could be done in Northern Ireland. As the Americans say, it was a game changer," said Managing Director Greg Darby. "'Game of Thrones' are directly or indirectly responsible for 80 percent of the people that we have taken on in the last three years, because if they didn't come we wouldn't have the other work."

Now slowly rising from economic stagnation and political violence, Northern Ireland has world class facility with world class crew who have worked on one of TV's most watched and most successful shows. The country is now the location for Universal Pictures upcoming movie "Dracula Untold," and Ridley Scott's new flick "Halo."

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(Photo: REUTERS / Lucas Jackson/Files )
Cast member Peter Dinklage arrives for the season four premiere of the HBO series "Game of Thrones" in New York in this March 18, 2014, file photo. The blood-filled finale of the fourth season of HBO's fantasy series "Game of Thrones" was watched by 7.1 million viewers, the network said on Monday, topping the 5.4 million people who watched last season's closing episode.
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