Ballymena is ideally placed to play a central role as the Northern Ireland Tourist Board taps into the huge market potential of Game of Thrones!
Film location holidays in Northern Ireland are proving big business - especially with the globally successful Game of Thrones being shot at a number of locations practically on Ballymena’s doorstep.
According to DUP assemblyman, David McIlveen MLA, Ballymena’s position at the centre of the county’s road network and its top class hotels make it a potential hot spot for fans of the show.
Mr McIlveen, who also chairs the All Party Group on Tourism at the Northern Ireland Assembly was speaking this week following remarks made by Tourism Minister Arlene Foster regarding the future of film tourism in Northern Ireland. In September of this year Mr McIlveen raised the question of film tourism with Mrs Foster and is delighted to see progress being made.
However the DUP MLA has warned that Ballymena should move quickly to capitalise on the opportunity and has offered his full support for any group or agency in Ballymena that wants to maximise such opportunities.
“When travelling to the majority of the filming sites in North Antrim, tourists will have to pass through Ballymena. Our shopping facilities, historic outlying villages, outstanding restaurants and top class hotels should attract each one of those tourists to stop and experience what Ballymena has to offer.
“I have contacted the tourism officer in Ballymena Council and the local Chamber of Commerce, to see if we can liaise with other areas to ensure Ballymena is firmly on the Game of Thrones map. We must strike now when the iron is hot to ensure that Ballymena is not left behind and that we capitalise on this fabulous opportunity.
“It is important to note that the estimated economic impact of Game of Thrones, as measured by Gross Value Added and employment, is expected to exceed £80million. This includes all expenditure generated in the local economy such as wages and salaries of Northern Ireland resident cast and crew, hotels, facilities hire, transport hire, construction costs, etc. This does not include tourism spend and I can only imagine what kind of figure we could generate if we truly target this sector. I look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure we do the best for the Northern Ireland economy and particularly the people of Ballymena to generate tourism numbers.”