‘Game of Thrones’ Brings Croatia’s Dubrovnik Rich Reward

Fans of the cult TV series Game of Thrones spent almost 126 million euros in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik, where it was partly filmed, a research article shows.
Dubrovnik from the town walls. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Icewedge

Croatia’s coastal tourist hot-spot of Dubrovnik has benefited mightily from being a film location for HBO’s fantasy drama, Game of Thrones, a research article has shown.

The article shows that more than 240,000 tourists visited Dubrovnik-Neretva County between 2012 and 2015 because they were fans of the TV series. These tourists spent almost 1.5 million nights night and 125.9 million euros in Dubrovnik.

The article “The effect of film industry on tourism: Game of Thrones and Dubrovnik”, published on Monday in the International Journal of Tourism Research, analysed how many tourists were attracted to Dubrovnik as one of series’ film locations.

Dubrovnik served as the setting for “King’s Landing”, capital of the fictional kingdom of Westeros in the series.

The article tried to measure the effects of the film industry on local tourism. Some tourism analysts already explained the potential positive effects of the series on overseas markets, but without specifically researching the issue.

The researchers used a synthetic control approach to “estimate the causal effects” of the series on tourist arrival numbers.

The method compared the Dubrovnik-Neretva and other counties in 2012-15 and enables giving answers on “what if” type of questions.

“We find a robust and positive effect of filming the TV series in Dubrovnik on the number of tourist arrivals. Additionally, we show that there are positive spillover effects on other counties and the whole country. Placebo tests show that the estimated effects are relatively large when compared to other counties, implying our results are not driven simply by chance,” authors concluded in the article’s summary.

The authors of the study are Marina Tkalec, Ivan Zilic and Vedran Recher from the Zagreb Institute of Economics and Austrian Johannes Kepler from the University Linz.

Besides Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik has also been the location for filming part of the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi, as well as the newest Robin Hood film, Robin Hood: Origins, which has caused some controversy over how the producers used the special effects and scenery in the Old Town.

Special websites offers tours through Game of Thrones and Star Wars: The Last Jedi of film locations in Dubrovnik.

A great trading city in medieval times, Dubrovnik’s economy these days relies almost completely on tourism, which also represents an important asset for Croatia’s economy as a whole. Tourism accounts for 18 per cent of Croatia’s annual GDP – the biggest percentage in Europe.