As Croatia Ignores Its Game of Thrones Gift, Some Lessons from New Zealand

By 20 April 2019

April 20, 2019 - Another missed opportunity from Croatian tourism chiefs with the Game of Thrones Series 8 - when will we start taking advantage of these incredible gifts?

It was one of the most eagerly anticipated television series events in history. 

A series which had some of the biggest global brands doing deals with producers HBO to promote their brands with this global TV phenomenon. 

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Even the Trumpster got in on the action. 

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An advertising opportunity which many global brands took advantage of, and one which generated considerable interest in the global advertising industry. Here are some of the best of the 100 or so brands which partnered up with HBO.

Croatia, Dubrovnik, Kings Landing, almost the spiritual home of Game of Thrones. Surely they would have taken advantage of such a golden global opportunity?


They are certainly capable of great promotional work, as the innovative and award-winning football promotion video last year showed, a video which was actually made several months before the World Cup started.

I checked the official Croatian National Tourist Board Facebook page. Absolutely nothing at all.  

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I went to the Croatian National Tourist Board website and entered 'Game of Thrones' into the search box. Surely a treasure trove of GoT info would await?

Er, not quite. 

In fact, the first search terms - Our Lady of Trsat in Rijeka, sailing, an exhibition in Zagorje, the Feast of St Blaise and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sinj had about of much to do with Game of Thones as British cooking to quality gourmet experiences.

But if the Croatian National Tourist Board had missed the opportunity, surely the heartland of Game of Thrones, Kings Landing itself, would do justice to this tourism gift?

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I went to the Dubrovnik Tourist Board website. Having expected to find a dedicated GoT/Kings Landing section and having been disappointed, I entered 'Game of Thrones' into the search box. 

My reward was this page above. 

In Japanese. 

With not a mention of Game of Thrones in any language. 

I don't like to complain, but seriously, WTF?


It follows a depressing trend of the ineffectiveness of the promotion of tourism jewels. I really do not like writing negative stuff about Croatian tourism, but unless we realise the problem, we can't fix it. 

Just as the Kings of Accidental Tourism congratulate themselves on having Game of Thrones in their portfolio while doing almost nothing to promote the fact, a UK tourism agency conducted a masterstroke by offering a free holiday to Croatia to those who could predict how the final season will finish. 


As with Game of Thrones, Croatian tourism has an absolute gift to exploit and promote with its 130 indigenous grape varieties, including the original Zinfandel (check out the Total Croatia introduction to wine in Croatia), but apart from lots of self congratulations about how amazing Croatian wine is, the promotion is pitiful compared to some of our regional neighbours. Macedonia is SO much more effective at promoting their wine story, and it is somewhat ironic that their biggest export market is Croatia...

It is more than 6 years since the late Anthony Bourdain told the world about Croatia's 'world-class food, world-class wine, world-class cheese.'

Where are we with wine tourism, or gourmet tourism in general, some six years later, compared to the competition gourmet countries of France, Spain, Italy and Germany for example. 

Football. If any nation was in pole position to take advantage of the branding of football and tourism after last summer's heroics in Russia, it is Croatia. But the tiny country which dared to dream has had the initiative in branding football and tourism together usurped by an even tinier country which has never been to the World Cup and does not have a single player who has ever played in the Premiership. Lessons from Rwanda: Promoting Tourism Through Football, African-Style.

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Where to look for inspiration to take advantage of Croatia's Game of Thrones gift?

Where better than New Zealand, which did such an excellent job taking advantage of the filming of Lord of the Rings. Here is what you find when you search for 'Lord of the Rings' on the official New Zealand Tourist Board website, above

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A Lord of the Rings section with a very detailed drop-down menu of choices - looking for some recommended trips? Here are 92 recommendations.  

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Want to learn more about various features of Lord of the Rings? Here are 1,392 options. 

Meanwhile, in Game of Thrones Croatia...

I mean, seriously, how hard is it?

To learn more about Game of Thrones and Croatia, check out our Total Croatia guide