‘Game of Thrones’ locales see more tourism

Bekah Wright

Where do Westeros and Essos fall on the map exactly? They don’t. These are the mythical lands where the HBO series “Game of Thrones” takes place. The fact that they don’t exist … that isn’t stopping fans from booking visits.

Indeed, locations where the show films, including Iceland, Morocco and Croatia, are getting an influx of travelers hoping to capture the spirit of the epic fantasy.

Do TV series affect tourism? Christopher Doherty, the mayor of Cranston, Penn., thinks so. Since the NBC sitcom “The Office hit the air, Scranton, the town where the fictional series is set, has had a flurry of tourism.

Tours of locations featured on the sitcom are conducted in Scranton each Saturday. On May 4, a record 10,000 people turned up in the 75,995-population city for the show’s wrap party, which was featured in Thursday’s series finale.

So it wasn’t surprising that when GoT’s third season kicked off March 31, tourism to its shooting locations spiked.

Playing on their GoT ties, Iceland Naturally held a recent Behind the Wall Sweepstakes. The winner will be immersed in landscape where GoT has filmed, including the Lake Mývatn area, Dimmuborgir, Hverfell Crater and Höfði.

In its more than a billion searches by travelers each year, Kayak, the online metasearch site, has kept an eye on trends kicked off by GoT. It’s seen a 16% increase in tourist interest in Iceland since GoT premiered. Last month, the travel site LateRooms.com also announced its Iceland hotel bookings, having seen a 13% increase in reaction to GoT third-season kickoff.

Ouarzazate, Morocco, known for scenes featuring GoT’s Daenerys Targaryen, is also garnering bookings, with LateRooms.com reporting its own 100% increase in the city.

Dubrovnik, Croatia was chosen as the site of GoT’s King’s Landing in 2011. Has tourism amped up in the area? “It’s hard to tell that the increase we are having last years is directly related to the filming of the famous HBO show,” Jelka Tepsic of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board told Yahoo! Travel. What she points to instead – tourist arrivals bouncing up 10% in 2012 and tourist overnight stays up 12%. LateRooms.com has increased booking at a none-too-shabby 28%. On Kayak’s end, the site has seen a 30% bump in tourist interest in Dubrovnik.

Fans of “Cheers still flock to the Boston bar location on which that series was based. A replica satellite bar has even opened. England’s Highclere Castle, the “real Downton Abbey,” has already sold out 2013 pre-bookable tour tickets.

Do TV series affect tourism? Perhaps a peek into Doherty’s plans, as “The Office took its final bow after nine seasons, serve as an indicator – he was a guest on “Hardball with Chris Matthews.”

Westeros and Essos, looks like your time in the spotlight is just getting started.