Research paper on the effect that the filming of Games of Thrones had on tourism in Dubrovnik

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Researchers from the Institute of Economics, Zagreb - Marina Tkalec, Ivan Žilić and Vedran Recher - published a research paper in the prestigious scientific journal International Journal of Tourism Research titled The effect of film industry on tourism: Game of Thrones and Dubrovnik, in which they evaluate the effect the filming of the TV series Game of Thrones (GoT) had on tourism in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

The results of evaluation, carried out by means of the treatment effect analysis, suggest that the filming of GoT in Dubrovnik had significantly positive effects on tourism results. Due to the filming of GoT alone, the Dubrovnik-Neretva County registered 60 thousand more tourist arrivals every year in the 2012–2015 period. Cumulatively, throughout the entire analyzed period, Dubrovnik-Neretva County registered 244,415 more tourist arrivals. This figure translates into almost one and a half million more overnight stays (1,441,359 to be exact). Motivated by GoT, guests visiting the county spent 126 million euro in the analyzed period. As analyzed in the paper, due to the filming of GoT in Dubrovnik, researchers from the Institute of Economics, Zagreb also detected spillover effects on other Croatian counties - it should also be noted here that Dubrovnik was the first filming location and that different locations throughout other counties were added subsequently during the filming of other seasons - however, the spillover effect was not the paper's main focus of research.

Being one of the most popular TV series, GoT started filming in Dubrovnik in 2011, in its second season. Given the series' medieval context and Dubrovnik's rich and well-preserved cultural and architectural heritage such as the city walls, Fort Lovrijenac and the island of Lokrum, which presented a stunning backdrop for the series, it has been chosen to represent King's Landing - the capital and largest city of the Seven Kingdoms appearing frequently throughout the series. These images of Dubrovnik impressed a massive audience generating a global recognition of Dubrovnik and stimulating a strong tourist demand.

These kinds of analyses play a crucial social and economic role because they enable authorities to assess the cost-effectiveness of possible future public funds investments with the aim of attracting production companies whose future series and films could be set in Croatia. Such evaluations should also be conducted for all other forms of public funds and subsidies expenditures to assure both tax payers and authorities that public funds investments via certain public policies are economically and socially justifiable. Unfortunately, in Croatia, these types of evaluations are quite rare and as a consequence, the decisions on public funds expenditures are usually made without prior evaluation, while subsequent evaluations, regarding the efficiency of such spending, are either not done or are conducted on a very superficial and inadequately professional level.

You can access the research paper here.