Company behind new Game of Thrones tour in Banbridge announce finance deal
THE company behind the new Game of Thrones studio tour in Banbridge has announced a £3.5 million finance deal.
Linen Mill Studios plan to create up to 200 jobs by turning the former buildings used to film the HBO blockbuster into a new tourism attraction.
The project has been launched by John Hogg and Company, which owns the site, in partnership with the US TV network.
They plan to attract up to 600,000 people a year, which would make it the north's third biggest tourism attraction behind the Giant's Causeway and Titanic Belfast.
The tour will feature original sets, props and costumes used in the filming of the series, which ended in May 2019.
The new company Linen Mill Studios Ltd has now announced a part finance deal through two funds, set up by Invest NI.
It has agreed a £2m loan from the Growth Finance Fund and a £1.5m loan from Growth Loan Fund II, both of which are managed by Whiterock Finance.
The £30m Growth Finance Fund provides loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) of up to £2m. It’s financed by the British Business Bank, Invest NI and private investors. The Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC), which operates a pension scheme for local councils, is also involved.
The second fund is provided by Invest NI and part-funded with EU money.
Andrew Webb, who has held senior roles within the John Hogg Group, has taken on the role of managing director of the new company.
He praised the team at Whiterock for their support for the project.
“Momentum is now gathering towards the creation of one of the most exciting visitor attractions in Northern Ireland’s history, one that will draw thousands of visitors from near and far, provide a host of direct and indirect jobs and underpin Northern Ireland’s economy at a crucial time," he said.
“The Game of Thrones Studio Tour has already generated huge excitement and interest among fans around the world and we expect it to play a significant part in rejuvenating the tourism sector on the island of Ireland in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.”
David McCurley, director of Whiterock Finance, said: “We are really excited to have been able to play a part in helping Andrew and the Linen Mill Studios team bring this landmark new tourist attraction to life. When it opens next year, the Studio Tour will provide a significant boost to the local economy and benefit the whole of the Northern Ireland tourism industry.”