Thursday 27 October 2016

Kim Bielenberg: Belfast has the Titanic Experience for tourists - Dublin should have a Troika Trail

Published 20/11/2012 | 09:52

Ajai Chopra Dept Director of the IMF European Department in Dublin
Ajai Chopra Dept Director of the IMF European Department in Dublin

YOU have to take your hat off to Leo Varadkar for at least trying. The Minister for Tourism has come up with an idea for an "Independence Trail" through Dublin

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Visitors will be able to go for a stroll to visit the sites of the Easter Rising. They can saunter to the GPO. They can see where Padraig Pearse read his proclamation to a few bemused passers-by, who may have been hoping to buy some stamps.

But should we really be going down the 1916 route in a bid to lure tourists?

We may fondly imagine that we are known the world over for casting off the shackles of British oppression in a heroic struggle for freedom.

In fact, we are perhaps more renowned now, for going bust in truly breathtaking fashion, and staging one of the most spectacular property crashes in the history of the western world.

Is it not time for a Troika Trail, a special all-in-one tour taking visitors to see the landmarks of the crash, the historic places where we finally lost our independence?

Tourists are only dying to walk in the hallowed footsteps of Ajai “Chopper” Chopra of the IMF from the plush five-star Merrion Hotel to the Central Bank, as he seized back our sovereignty.

Across the road from the Merrion, visitors could gaze in wonder into Government Buildings. Here bankers, bureaucrats and bungling politicians set up the notorious bank guarantee, which cost the state over €50 billion.

Then, on our Troika Trail, it’s time to swing by the shell of the tower that was set to become the headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank, the institution that did so much to bankrupt the country.

The empty and uncompleted skyscraper on North Wall Quay is one of the greatest monuments to folly in Christendom.

Of course, it could be argued that this is all too negative. Others prefer to promote a green and pleasant land where salmon leap from streams, and fiddlers play merry tunes in the snugs of cosy pubs with turf fires.

But it should not be forgotten that disaster tourism is big business.

In Belfast, the visitor is spoilt for choice in this respect. First, they can do a terrorist tour of Belfast, taking in landmarks of the Troubles where bombs and bullets flew with gay abandon.

Then after lunch it’s off to see the Titanic Experience.

When it comes to tourism, visitors love nothing more than a sinking ship. It’s high time that Minister Leo cashed in and started the Troika Trail.

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