Time To Buy Into ‘Screen Tourism’ Says Tourism NI

Tourism NI has urged more businesses to capitalise on the north’s emerging ‘screen tourism’ sector – just as Belfast’s Creative Industries Media Hub celebrates its first year in business at the Harbour Estate.

With BBC2’s Line of Duty currently filming at the ‘Hub’ and the continued presence of HBO‘s Game of Thrones, it is prime time for businesses to jump on the tourist bandwagon, according to Tourism NI director of product development Laura McCorry.

Together with Northern Ireland Screen, Tourism Ireland and the hospitality industry, the north’s recently re-branded tourism body is working on measures towards a ‘screen tourism’ industry and has already produced Game of Thrones web pages incorporating a Game of Thrones filming locations map.

“When people see our Jurassic coastlines, crumbling castles, stately homes, mountains, forests and cityscapes on the TV they see into the heart of our offering, and that is something we are very keen to capitalise on,” Ms McCorry said.

“Tourism Northern Ireland has recently met with a number of local tour operators who have built experiences around the Game of Thrones locations and is continuing work to enable local trade to develop further initiatives based on screen tourism.”

Exploiting current filming activity across the north makes good economic sense according to Richard Simpson, managing director of Atlas Communications which created the ‘Hub’ out of the burgeoning £329 million per annum Northern Ireland film industry.

Atlas, better known for its range of tailored data, inter-net and telephony communications solutions, quietly ‘dipped its toes’ into the creative side of things last year, providing services for the film industry after 30 years of bespoke telecommunications for businesses across Ireland.

Now working with productions such as Line of Duty, Patch of Fog and Ridley Scott’s Halo, the Hub team provides visiting production teams with on-site telecoms and connectivity.

“We made our debut with City of Ember, which was filmed at Titanic Studios, and then went on to provide off-site services for Game of Thrones, Dracula Year Zero and Frankenstein,” Mr Simpson said.

“It’s the only facility in Northern Ireland where a production crew can move in straight away with all the desks, telephones and broadband connections they need to get up and running.”

Now Tourism NI is encouraging other companies to consider business spin-offs resulting from Northern Ireland becoming the ‘go-to’ location for major film and television production crews.

“There are a number of ways that tourism businesses can capitalise on local film and television production, including themed visitor experiences and activities, location tours, themed package breaks and accommodation, both for visitors attracted through screen tourism and for crews filming on location,” Ms McCorry said.

Meanwhile, the tourism body has dismissed recent comments made by Game of Thrones star Kit Harington who last week described the Northern Ireland tourist body as “wonderfully depressing” on an American chat show.

Speaking about his experiences on Late Night, the actor said the tourist board was “wonderful” but “celebrated three things” – the Europa Hotel as ‘the most bombed’ in Europe, the Titanic which sunk on its maiden voyage, and Game of Thrones, “the most depressing TV show in history”.

In response, Tourism NI said the filming of Game of Thrones and screen tourism was a “key asset and a key area for growth” in Northern Ireland.

Source: irishnews.com