Game of Thrones: Green light for County Down studio tour

image sourceLinen Mill Studios
image captionThe owners hope that Game of Thrones fans from around the world will flock to the attraction

Councillors have granted planning permission for a Game of Thrones studio tour in County Down.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council gave the green light for the attraction at the Linen Mill Studios near Banbridge.

The owners hope to attract 600,000 visitors a year, with plans to employ 200 people.

They claim it will help generate about £400m of tourism revenue annually.

Andrew Webb, managing director at Linen Mill Studios, said they felt privileged to be the operators of the only Game of Thrones studio tour in the world.

image sourceSky Atlantic
image captionNorthern Ireland's film industry has reaped the rewards of the international success of Game of Thrones

"The authenticity of the Game of Thrones studio tour at Linen Mill Studios is the essential connection with the show, which has been such a part of the Banbridge area for so many years," Mr Webb said.

Linen Mill Studios began its co-operation with the television series' producers in 2008, after the closure of the original mill that had operated on the site since 1832.

image sourceLinen Mill Studios
image captionThe tour will recreate some of the sets from the series

A spokesperson for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council said: "This is an ambitious project which will provide a significant boost to the local and regional economy. It is hoped that the creation of local employment opportunities will act as a catalyst for the economy at this time."

The studio tour has been developed under licence with Warner Brothers Consumer Products.

The interactive experience will bring visitors face-to-face with original set pieces, props and weapons used to create the worlds of Westeros and Esteros.

image sourceLinen Mill Studios
image captionThe handiwork of the series' wardrobe department will be on display

Figures issued by Tourism NI in 2019 suggest that 350,000 people come to Northern Ireland every year just for Game of Thrones - that is one in six leisure visitors. It is estimated they spend £50m each year.

The studio tour will join other major Game of Thrones attractions in Northern Ireland, including the Dark Hedges and Ballintoy harbour in County Antrim.

The action in the phenomenally successful series centres on the mythical continent of Westeros, and the power struggle by rival dynasties such as the Starks, the Lannisters and the Targaryens to control the Iron Throne.

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