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Over-tourism by Game of Thrones fans troubles Spain’s Basque Country citizens

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It has been almost 4 years since Game of Thrones wrapped up its final season. The series showcased some of the most beautiful landscapes that were used as sets, which included sites from Northern Ireland, Croatia, and Spain. The advent of the prequel House of the Dragon has caused a renewed interest in fans to go visit these sites. However, this has at times caused serious adverse effects on the local population.

Over-tourism is affecting Basque Country’s bird population

According to a recent report by Euro News, the increasing number of “Game of Thrones” fans visiting San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in the Basque Country, which served as “Dragonstone” in the television series, has upset local bird breeding practices and raised concerns among the populace.

To manage visitor numbers, local authorities were compelled to implement an online ticketing system. They have also prohibited the church’s traditional bell ringing to avoid disturbing the local bird population. While visitors are no longer permitted to ring the church bell on any day other than designated festival days, fishing boats are still free to turn as they like.

Basque locals adversely affected by over-tourism

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Di Clementp.fr – Opera propria, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=90887171

One of the locals named Maialen Carbó told Euro News, “The buses, which are already infrequent, are now full of tourists who want to visit the area, taking the places from people who live in Bakio and need to use the local transport. It’s a joke that locals have to now ask to visit a place on their doorstep that they have always been able to freely visit before.”

Locals elsewhere have also complained about getting the same treatment as the tourists from the local authorities, barred from entering places that they earlier had free access to.

How Basque officials are handling over-tourism

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In order to secure the site’s sustainable usage, the Provincial Council of Bizkaia said in April that it was in favor of the formation of a new organization that would enhance coordination between several agencies and departments with overlapping tasks.

 
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To encourage more people to go by public transportation, work has also been done to expand the surrounding parking lot and build new bus stations. Additionally, new coastal paths will be constructed, enabling access to the location from Bermeo as well as Bakio. The city is currently greeting fans of Game of Thrones with open arms and even hosts an annual Game of Thrones event. However, Gaztelugatxe demonstrates that there is a delicate line between more tourists and excessive tourism.

Read Next: Everything we know about House of the Dragon season 2 filming in Spain

 

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