Game of Thrones fans are flocking to see Westeros in real life, but one particularly popular destination may soon be off-limits to some. According to Entertainment Weekly, Croatia's Dubrovnik, which viewers will recognize as King's Landing, may soon lose its UNESCO World Heritage Site status due to the increase in tourism, specifically from cruise ships. The city's new mayor, Mato Franković, says that he may have to implement a daily limit for visitors to counter overcrowding.
According to Quartz, Thrones-related tourism helped Croatia endure a deep recession that lasted from 2009-2014. Thanks to the popularity of the show and the city's accessibility for cruise ships, the pedestrian-only Old Town has become hugely popular for tourists from America, Canada, and other parts of Europe. EW reports that in 2016, "799,916 people came to the city from 539 cruises," according to data from the Dubrovnik Port Authority.
In order to keep its World Heritage Site status, daily visitors need to stay under an 8,000-person cap. Franković isn't taking any chances, however. He's proposing at 4,000-person daily limit, which means that some fans are sure to get turned away at the city's 16th-century gates.
He's not against bringing attention to the surrounding sites, though. According to Ivan Vukovic, who has been leading tours of Dubrovnik for over a decade, there are vineyards and islands to visit just outside the city's walls. Franković knows that his proposal will be unpopular with some people, but he sees it as beneficial in the long run, since keeping the World Heritage status comes with certain protections from the U.N.
"I am not here to make people happy, but to make the quality of life [in this city] better," Franković said. "Some of the cruise lines will disagree with what I'm saying, but my main goal is to ensure quality for tourists and I cannot do it by the keeping the situation as it is."
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