Ramsay Bolton and King Joffrey are Great for Northern Irish Tourism
When “Discover Northern Ireland” isn’t ruthlessly commodifying the Titanic and all who (two thirds) sailed in her, they’re selling Game of Thrones. Wonderful for tourism is Game of Thrones – so many great locations – “Didn’t such and such get stabbed here?” “Who got flayed at this point?”
And it’s worked out very well. The global success of a show devoted to the intricacies of extreme human depravity (and nobody enjoys it more than I do) has led to folks visiting County Fermanagh who wouldn’t otherwise have found the county on any map of Europe.
Recently, Prince Charles visited Co. Donegal and it was claimed immediately afterwards that the event was great for local tourism, offering great free publicity for the area. Apparently they did wonders for a local butcher’s and conspicuously enjoyed some local sausages. Of course, from the rather nebulous tourist benefits of this visit have to be deducted the rather more quantifiable security costs.
But the point is that virtually anything can be “publicity” if you work hard at it. The Game of Thrones economic boom does not mean that we should actually divide ourselves into dynastic houses and slaughter one another till we get our representative sat on the iron throne of Westeros. Titanic tourism does not retroactively vindicate 1500 hypothermia deaths.
Indeed Game of Thrones Tourism (which is a lot bigger than Prince Charles Had A Look At This Cliff The Other Week Tourism) pretty much depends upon the fact that its characters aren’t real. George R.R. Martin made all of them up. And if these characters really were roaming about in real life, then we’d all be too busy trying to stay out of their way to go on Lannister, Stark or Bolton related tourist trips. Made up royals and ex royals work rather better than actual royals from the point of view of generating tourist revenue. The Palace of Versailles gets significantly more tourists than Windsor Castle. Legoland Windsor gets significantly more tourists than Windsor Castle. Furthermore, made up Westeros dynasts do not entail expensive tax-funded security costs.
Indeed, if a talented faction writer were to construct dramatised history of British dynasties that was heavy on sexual depravity and complicated murder, then such a dramatisation might do far more for tourism than a bunch of shy and awkward twenty first century aristocrats cutting ribbons and not quite knowing what to say.
For sure, some folk used a royal visit for publicity purposes. They use anything they can think of. Does this mean that keeping an actual royal family is essential for tourist purposes? That the needs of tourism vindicates maintaining a hereditary dynasty at public expense?