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Game of Thrones gets Spanish tapas treatment

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Game of Thrones gets Spanish tapas treatment
Game of Thrones extras leave the bullring in the Andalusian town of Osuna. Photo: Cristina Quicler/AFP
11:02 CEST+02:00
Fans of the "Game of Thrones" fantasy TV series are flocking to the historic Spanish town of Osuna, where one canny restaurant owner has even starting naming the tapas after characters in the show.

For Osuna in Andalusia, the arrival of Game of Thrones has meant a tourism bonanza.

The tourism information centre in the southern town has extended its hours since filming began on October 16th to deal with the influx and hotels are fully booked until the end of the month when filming ends.

"It's crazy. Everyone is very excited. They want to take photos with the actors, at the locations used in filming," the owner of the 30-room Hotel Esmeralda in Osuna, Alberto Piedra, told AFP.

Despite minor hiccoughs like a set collapsing during gust conditions, the series has already provided a windfall for local businesses like Casa Curro, which introduced a special menu of tapas inspired by characters of the show.

The "Joffrey" -- named after King Joffrey Baratheon, a character played in the first four seasons by Irish actor Jack Gleeson -- consists of trout with bacon garnished with mulled wine.

"It has been very successful. I did not expect the menu to have so much success. People really like it," the owner of the 17-year-old restaurant, Teresa Jimenez, told news agency AFP.

SEE ALSO: Top ten places to film Games of Thrones 

Officials now hope the show will continue to spur interest in visiting Osuna, with its 16th century palazzos and steepled churches, long after the episodes filmed in the town air around the world next year.

To attract fans of the series after film crews have left, Osuna's business association plans to offer special location tours while one restaurant will redecorate in a "Game of Thrones" theme.

The town hall is also thinking of setting up a museum dedicated to the film shoot and will update its tourism web page to highlight the sites featured in the series, Osuna mayor Rosario Andújar said.

"We want to make the most of the fact that part of the fifth season of this series was filmed here," she told AFP.

Producers of the series plan to film in Spain for 17 days, until the 30, mostly in Osuna, a hillside town surrounded by olive groves that is home to around 18,000 people.

Film crews moved to Osuna after shooting for a few days at Seville's Real Alcazar palace.

Producers have kept details of the shoot in Osuna a secret but the own's bull ring will reportedly be used for a battle scene involving hundreds of extras.

Other cities and towns in Croatia, Malta, Northern Ireland and Iceland all reported a sharp rise in visitor numbers after serving as a backdrop for "Game of Thrones".

The series has a dedicated fan base and is one of the most watched shows on television.

Season four of "Game of Thrones", a tale of battles and betrayal mixed with a generous helping of sex and bloodshed, averaged 18 million weekly viewers in the United States.

The US ambassador to Spain, James Costos, a former executive at HBO, the channel which produces the series, predicts visitor numbers in Seville and the surrounding area will rise by 15 percent.

Visitor numbers to Osuna rose by 15 percent in August, and by 30 percent in September, compared to the same period last year, Andújar said.

But the mayor would not predict by how much tourism could rise over the next few years, saying only that she was sure more people would visit because of the series.

"There are going to be many followers of this who are going to want to come to Osuna to see where the actors stayed, where the filming was done and to sit where the actors sat," she said.

While the long-term tourism impact for the town is unknown, the shoot has already generated hundreds of much-needed short term jobs in the southern region of Andalucia, which has been especially hard hit by Spain's economic downturn.

Producer Fresco Film services based in Malaga has hired 550 people to work as extras during the filming at a series who will be paid €50 ($65) per day.

Andalucia is struggling with an unemployment rate of 34.7 percent, the highest of Spain's 17 autonomous regions.

The arrival of Games of Thrones in Spain has not, however, been without its controversy. A gang of scammers are believed to have made up to €100,000 from a fake hotline aimed at eager extras for the hit TV series.

A casting call for 'slim' extras without tattoos also raised eyebrows. 

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