independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

US mayor won't be guzzling the black stuff on Wexford trip

Mayor of Annapolis, Josh Cohen

THE Mayor of Annapolis Josh Cohen, heading a delegation to Wexford later this month, has told a U.S. newspaper that his 10-day trip is not an excuse to ply himself with Guinness.

Mayor Cohen is visiting at the invitation of Wexford's Mayor Cllr. Jim Allen following his visit to Annapolis in March.

Cllr. Allen said that while the U.S. visitors would be paying their own air fares, the council will be picking up the tab for rooms at the Talbot Hotel.

Official dinners will also be at local expense, however 'we will not be paying for their meals and sandwiches,' he said.

Cllr. Allen was unable to say precisely how much had been budgeted for the U.S. visit which he believes will yield a lot in terms of business and joint tourism projects.

The visit is timed to coincide with the John Barry festival, celeberating the Wexford-born founder of the U.S. Navy and the 50 anniversary of the visit to Wexford by President John F. Kennedy.

During the visit, the U.S. visitors will meet tourism and business officials and discuss ways of cement ties between Annapolis and its sister town.

The Web newspaper Capitalgazette.com reported that the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau is paying for Cohen's flight, in addition to airfare for Anthony Clarke, chairman of the bureau's board, and Connie Del Signore, the organisation's CEO.

It quoted tourism officials as saying they'll pay about $5,000 (€3,800) for the plane tickets. The mayor will also take a few days to visit relatives. Cohen says he is a quarter Irish.

'My first instinct was this was nothing that I need to focus on right now,' Cohen is quoted as saying.

'But before I said, 'No,' I wanted to get some feedback from business leaders in the community ... They saw this as having a potential benefit to the local economy. Then, I was more receptive to going. But only if no city dollars would be spent on it and it could benefit the business community.'

Gov. Martin O'Malley, on a separate economic development trip, will also attend the JFK celebration.

Others will travel with Cohen and the two Annapolis tourism bureau officials.

Cohen will pay out of pocket for his wife, Lesley Donoho-Cohen, to accompany him.

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