According to José Manuel Soria, Spain’s Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism, tourism is one of the engines of economic recovery in Spain. Figures produced by his department show that the tourism sector contributed 11% to GDP, 12% to employment and 25% to new jobs in the last 12 months. It also offset the trade deficit by 256%.
The figures come off the back of an excellent summer for the Iberian country, which enjoyed a 6% rise in foreign visitor numbers. Overall this year a total of 68 million people are expected to visit Spain.
In recent years, one strand of Spanish tourism that has exploded in popularity is that relating to the popular Game of Thrones television series. For those who have been living in a cave, Game of Thrones charts the rise and fall of the six great families of Westeros. With a fast-paced plot, incredible intrigue and some real gems of characters, as well as more than its fair share of sex and violence, the show has achieved huge success on both sides of the Atlantic.
In the UK, the show set ratings records when season five was shown on Sky Atlantic, capturing a 6.7% audience share. In the US the season finale was watched by 8.1 million viewers, despite being up against an NBA finals game.
The Game of Thrones HQ is in Northern Ireland, which itself has seen huge interest from fans around the world wishing to visit key filming locations. Other countries where filming has taken place have also benefitted. Roxie DeAngelis, who recently travelled from the US to Ireland for a holiday, was delighted to be able to join a tour that allowed her to stand on the TV show’s famous King’s Road. She comments,
“I really wanted to visit the sets and locations when I was in Ireland recently. I didn’t think I would be able to this time around because I didn’t plan on traveling to Northern Ireland where most of Game of Thrones’ filming takes place. But I was able to squeeze in a couple of extra days of touring and as luck would have it, we stopped at a place called the Dark Hedges, which doubled for the King’s Road. The site is otherworldly and beautiful, so it’s no wonder the show’s location scouts chose it.
“Being there was a thrill and I even posed for a photo and hash tagged “what would Jon Snow do?!” Totally cheesy, but since a love of Game of Thrones is shared worldwide, you can travel to these places with fellow tourists and revel in your goofy enjoyment as a team. It’s a bonding experience for folks from all walks of life.”
Other countries to host Game of Thrones filming include Croatia, Iceland, Morocco, Malta, Scotland, the United States and Spain. In Spain, the city of Seville and neighbouring Osuna have seen hordes of tourists descend to pay homage to their on-screen heroes and villains since season five was filmed in several locations there. Local tour companies have maximised their potential by offering themed Game of Thrones tours, just as they have in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.
Now, with season six filming well underway, Game of Thrones fever has gripped Spain once more. Filming has so far included Girona, Navarra and the seaside location of Peñiscola, with thousands of fans queuing up in response to advertisements for extras in each location. Spaniards, it seems, are just as keen to be part of George RR Martin’s epic fantasy world as viewers from the UK and US.
In October, the film crews are heading over to the stunning Costa Almeria region, where work has been undertaken to prepare scenery in areas such as El Chorrilo de Sierra Alhamilla (Pechina), where the construction of a settlement featuring huts around a church was rumoured to be have taken place.
With filming for season six well underway, the impact on Costa Almeria filming locations is hotly anticipated. Martin Dell, Director of Spanish property portal Kyero.com, which lists more than 200,000 homes from 3,000 estate agents, including a range of holiday rentals in Costa Almeria, comments,
“We’ve seen a huge boost in tourism as a result of the filming of Game of Thrones in other areas of Spain, as well as in its headquarters in Northern Ireland. Fans love to be able to visit the areas that they’ve seen form part of the series and chosen locations definitely benefit.
“I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see rental prices rising along the Costa Almeria once season six airs and it is subject to the Game of Thrones effect. Filming locations are getting wiser about how they can make the most of their new-found fame and as each season airs we are seeing a more sophisticated tourism offering to fans.”
The Carboneras municipal stadium, according to Almeria City Council, will host the film crew and the 400 extras who will be used as part of the filming on October 18 and 19in the Paraje de Mesa Roldan in the Natural Park of Cabo de Gata-Nijar. Other local sites tipped to be included in the smash hitshow are the Rambla del Cautivo, the Almeria Citadel and the Chorrillo de Pechina, where extras will include more than 100 Almeria-born horses, as well as the hundreds of locals keen to be a part of the epic series.
According to data from Kyero.com, average holiday rental prices in the Costa Almeria are currently €643 per week, with apartments accounting for two thirds of all rentals. The most popular locations are Mojacar, Vera and Arboleas. The area is most popular with holidaymakers from the UK, France and Germany, though it also has double the usual proportion of visitors from Belgium and Sweden. It will be interesting to see just how the huge impact of Game of Thrones will affect these statistics over the coming year, as the excitement regarding the latest season builds.
For further details on properties to rent and buy across Spain, visit www.kyero.com.