It’s amazing what media spotlight can do for a region of the world. There is probably no better case than the Game of Thrones influence on Dubrovnik, Croatia following the monstrous success of the television series. Thanks to the show, Time.com reported that Dubrovnik is experiencing a 10% annual growth rate of tourism in the city, which actually pulled the country out of a tight recession from 2009 until 2014.
The rate is only increasing at this time, which is putting pressure on city planners to figure out how to accommodate the tourism influx.
So, why Dubrovnik?
When Cersei Lannister walked through the streets of King’s Landing, naked, marching to the “shame” walk that was an international sensation, tourists starting lining up to go experience the city’s backdrop for themselves. The tourism spiked so quickly that only a year ago, the city released notice that they were restricting tourism in an effort to fight over-crowding.
As a constant in the show since season 1, as it now heads into the final season 8, King’s Landing has been featured since the very first few episodes. Over time, the show has become so iconic and popular that viewers want to experience the real-life settings for themselves – especially before it finally ends in 2019. For many, that destination is Croatia.
The country of Croatia is a no-brainer for European holiday getaways as it experiences year-round gorgeous weather with Adriatic Sea views and now of course, access to the Thrones experience. Circled by stone walls built in the 16th century, the Old Town portion of Dubrovnik is a designated World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Now, hotels, restaurants, bars, and tourist shops are popping up at a rapid pace as cruises bring close to 800,000 tourists via 539 cruise ships per year (as of 2016).
Of course, with all the good can come some bad. As a result of the crowding, the city is at risk of losing its UNESCO designation. The city and its leaders are in no position to turn away tourists, the very individuals that are lifting their entire country out of a poor economic period. Plus, the Croatians want more Europeans to see their country and realize the power and the beauty that resides within their nation’s walls.
Can a balance be achieved?
Dubrovnik’s mayor, Frankovic, has told international papers that he plans to first and foremost protect the city before turning it over to mass tourism. Elected in June, he said the short-term plan will stifle economic growth, but that in the long-term, Dubrovnik will remain intact and hopefully retain its UNESCO designation. The country is aiming to strike some kind of balance before it succumbs to being just another destination on a cruise ship tour.
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