“When we see the movie we will feel part of it, we have been there, we have touched that set, we have been in Dubrovnik!” explained Charlene Kavanagh and Heather McCrimmon to The Dubrovnik Times.
Dubrovnik has been in the spotlight, or limelight, of international film productions for the past few years. There can be no doubt that the moment HBO said - that is a great location to film Game of Thrones - five years ago that the ears of the rest of the movie community pricked up. And the moment Dubrovnik was shown in the second series of Game of Thrones the world saw, it somewhat computer enhanced, the beauty of this unique city on the Adriatic.
Charlene Kavanagh on the Star Wars VIII set in Dubrovnik
Game of Thrones not only brought with it the movie caravan it also brought a new type of tourism to the city. Far from the standard sun, sea and sand destination Dubrovnik, almost overnight, became a must see destination for movie fans. Last year the second most numerous tourists in Dubrovnik came from the US, even with the fact that there are no direct flights to the US from Dubrovnik or in fact to Croatia at all. If the Game of Thrones effect is massive just how big will be the Star Wars effect? Dubrovnik is the eye of a storm at the moment; the historic Old City has been transformed into a galaxy far, far away as filming begins of Star Wars VIII in the city.
“This is my first time in Dubrovnik, I have always wanted to come so when my friend, who lives in Zagreb, said lets come to Dubrovnik and see the Star Wars set, I jumped at the chance,” explained Charlene Kavanagh to The Dubrovnik Times.
Kavanagh and her friend, Heather McCrimmon, are not only Star Wars fans, they are fans who have travelled half way across Europe just to visit Dubrovnik and see the Star Wars set. The two friends, both from Canada, live in different sides of Europe, Kavanagh in Lisbon and McCrimmon in Zagreb, but Dubrovnik brought them together for a few days again.
“I flew from Lisbon to Rome and then to Dubrovnik, it took me almost a day of travelling to get here, but it was more than worth it,” added Kavanagh.
Charlene Kavanagh and Heather McCrimmon get up close and perosnal with Star Wars in Dubrovnik
Even before the eighth episode of Star Wars has hit the big screens the tourism effect has already kicked in. What will the effect be when Star Wars VIII is released and Dubrovnik is splashed across the cinema screens.
“I am not a big fan of Star Wars, but I do like the genre, but I am a huge Game of Thrones fan, so to be able to combine the two in one glorious destination is really attractive,” said Kavangh.
These very sentiments were echoed by McCrimmon, “When we saw the news and blogs we saw that there was a good chance of seeing something up close and personal. We thought that there might be high levels of security and we wouldn’t be able to see the sets, not only have we be able to see them, we have touched them, sat on them and had our photos taken.”
The chance of catching a glimpse of one of the stars in the movie, perhaps Mark Hamill or Benicio Del Toro, wasn’t that important to the pair, they just wanted to experience Star Wars in Dubrovnik. Neither had actually travelled to a movie set before, but the pull of Dubrovnik and Star Wars was too great to resist. “Star Wars was an iconic movie for our generation, we can both remember seeing the first movie as children, we feel connected to the movie,” added McCrimmon.
These two Canadian ladies were part of a small band of tourists, and a larger group of international media, who visited Dubrovnik whilst the scenes for the movie were being set up, however over the coming years a wave of movie fans will sweep over the city. Just over 68,000 American tourists visited Dubrovnik in 2015, a large proportion thanks to the Game of Thrones series, by what factor will this number be increased this year, or in coming years, with Star Wars fans only time, or maybe Yoda, will tell.
“There are so many reasons to come to Dubrovnik, our tour guide told us that Dubrovnik will represent the most beautiful planet in the galaxy in Star Wars, and we agree,” concluded the Canadians.