'Game of Thrones' Shoot Boosts Tourism 15 Percent in Spain's Seville

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Two weeks into filming of season five, the U.S. ambassador, a former HBO executive, shared preliminary figures

U.S. Ambassador to Spain James Costos says that initial figures show that shooting parts of the fifth season of HBO hit series Game of Thrones in Spain has already boosted local tourism by 15 percent just two weeks into filming.

"The intial information shows that Seville and Osuna, the two locations for the shoot, have already increased their visitor numbers around 15 percent," Costos said.

The former HBO executive spoke Wednesday at the first CreaCulture Forum, the purpose of which is to defend intellectual property and create awareness about the consequences of not protecting it.

“Spanish culture is an important element for the Spain brand, which the Spanish government and the embassy actively promote to promote investment in this country,” Costos said. “That investment has a direct impact on the creation of jobs and increasing the awareness of Spain as a competitive and welcoming place for production.”

Read more 'Game of Thrones' Brings Economic Boost to Northern Ireland

Costos said the embassy has been fielding calls from U.S. producers looking to shoot in Spain ever since Game of Thrones announced it would shoot parts of the fifth season in the southern part of the country, specifically Seville and Osuna, thanks to the Moorish fortresses and surrounding landscape.

“Film will be an indirect motor for increasing tourism in Spain,” Costos said, highlighting the 15 percent bump in local tourism in Seville, where Game of Thrones actors like Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Toby Sebastian have had to fight off hordes of fans, according to reports.

More than 86,000 people showed up for auditions when Spanish production company Fresco Film said it needed 600 extras for Game of Thrones.

“The creative industries create employment, and protecting intellectual property is crucial for this activity,” Costos continued. “Strengthening intellectual property rights is not an end in itself. It is a means to guaranteeing a healthy industry that creates employment and takes advantage of the creativity in the Spanish population.”

Read more Spanish Industry Divided Over 'Game of Thrones' Recovery Plan

Spain suffers from rampant piracy, with a reported 84 percent of all downloaded digital content coming from unlicensed sources. Most Spaniards don’t consider illegal downloading a crime and legal alternatives have failed to enjoy widespread success because they say it's “hard to compete with free.”

The U.S. ambassador said the “almost 230 movie theaters that have closed in the last three years, causing not only the closing of movie theaters, but the loss of hundreds of jobs in the country” clearly demonstrated the consequences of infringing on property rights.

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