You can't deny how famous Game of Thrones had become since it hit the small screens in 2011. But, along with its fame is the rise of popularity of its shooting locations like Dubrovnik in Croatia. Although the fictional King's Landing's tourism incredibly grows with the show's popularity, it is now paying the price with being plagued with a lot of tourists or overtourism.
Dubrovnik holds the magnificent beauty of a medieval walled city. It is an old town surrounded by massive stone walls that were completed in the 16th century. But of course, it became more popular because of Game of Thrones.
Tourist guide Ivan Vukovic said Dubrovnik's fame is both a "blessing and a curse," per The South China Morning Post. He spends half of his time touring tourists through the archers and towers of Croatia, showing them the Game of Thrones' non-existing capital of Westeros.
Now, Dubrovnik becomes a "tourist and cruise ship magnet." But, it results in a struggle with overtourism with the flood of visitors that come every day.
"It's an amazing thing because it brings us so many people, but now we do not know what to do with those people," Vukovic said. In the peak summer season, the guide revealed there would be traffic jams that filled Dubrovnik's limestone streets.
There are even cases that tourists gather along Dubrovnik's baroque Jesuit Staircase, where Cersei's (Lena Headey) famous walk of shame happened, only to shout "Shame! Shame! Shame!" Pizzeria owner Niko Grljevi said he does not mind Game of Thrones fans doing that, but he urged guides to stop the tourists from stripping naked to reenact the Queen of King's Landing iconic walk.
Game of Thrones has attracted over 244,000 tourists from 2012 to 2015 since fans saw Dubrovnik on its second season, per Rappler. In Zagreb-based Institute of Economics' statistics, these visitors spent about 126 million Euros between those years.
Just last year, the concern about overtourism crisis increased after over 1.2 million people visited Dubrovnik, which only homes 42,000 residents. So to solve the issue, authorities regulate the coming cruise ships in the city and set up cameras to monitor the crowd flow. However, locals are still worried about how to put the right balance on the town's tourism.
The 70-year-old pensioner Gordan Prislic admitted Game of Thrones brought "positive effects" in boosting Dubrovnik's popularity, but overtourism becomes a big concern. "I'm afraid that tourism will destroy our ancient town," he said.
Vukovic added Dubrovnik is now getting modernized. The old city is being turned into a shopping mall for tourists. And unfortunately, he finds young people nowadays see movies and social media are far more important than history.