Game of Thrones boosts Iceland's national brand

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A stock image of the Blue Lagoon leisure
Iceland's blue lagoons are a draw for tourists (Source: Getty)

Iceland's dramatic landscape gives Game of Thrones its wintry backdrop, and the country has seen volcanic political feuds that echo the popular television series.

But the island’s reputation as a real life Westeros has been credited in a new study for almost doubling the value of its national identity.

Iceland has the fastest-growing “brand” in the world, with its value rising 83 per cent in a year to $26bn, and it looks set to enjoy “unrivalled growth” in the coming years, according to Brand Finance.

“The country’s tourism industry is booming and expanding its share of GDP at the expense of the traditionally dominant fishing sector,” said David Haigh, chief executive of the consultancy.

Icelandic tourism has boomed since the financial crisis, generating 8.4 per cent of GDP last year compared to less than four per cent in 2009, according to official data.

The island introduced an “Icelandic pledge” for tourists this summer, in the hope of discouraging visitors from littering, poor parking and photoshoots near volcanoes.

Iceland’s attractiveness to tourists has helped repair its economy amid a series of political upheavals. The government collapsed last month under a scandal about Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson’s father and his support for a convicted paedophile. He took power in January after the Pirate Party failed to form a government.

Read more: UK urged to adopt Icelandic style fishing policy post-Brexit

The country, with a population of just over 300,000, is now preparing to elect its sixth leader since its financial system crumpled in 2008.

While growing fast, Iceland is only the 88th most lucrative national identity. The research, which examined each country’s business and social environment alongside its international trade prospects, found that the United States remains the most valuable national brand at $21 trillion, while China is in second place but with less than half the cachet.

The UK kept its spot as the fifth most valuable national brand, which grew four per cent to an estimated at $3.1 trillion.

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