Saturday 24 February 2018

Worldwide tourism drive gets the green light

The London Eye will
turn green for St Patrick's
The London Eye will turn green for St Patrick's Day will the Sydney Opera House

Grainne Cunningham

IT'S St Patrick's Day -- let's paint the world green.

Iconic buildings around the globe such as the Sydney Opera House, the London Eye, the Empire State Building and the CN Tower in Toronto will take on a distinctly Irish hue for our national day. The eye-catching idea has been dreamed up by Tourism Ireland who are spending €1m on a massive St Patrick's Day splash to attract visitors.

The all-Ireland tourism body plans to generate a 3pc rise in overseas visitors this year.

Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said he was confident the downward trend would be reversed this year, despite think tank Tourism Economics estimating that visitor numbers would fall by 2pc.

He said the global St Patrick's Day celebration was "a major springboard" for the €26m that Tourism Ireland would spend worldwide in the first six months of this year.

Mr Gibbons said that following on from "the worst season in living memory in 2009", Tourism Ireland was embarking on its biggest promotion.

As well as the "greening" of buildings Tourism Ireland plans to use "flash mobs", groups of musicians and dancers who appear apparently spontaneously in open spaces such as railway stations or town squares to grab public attention, in the run-up to St Patrick's Day. Mr Gibbons said that turning around the British market -- traditionally our biggest source of visitors -- was key.

Tourism Ireland now plans to make St Patrick's Day one of the biggest consumer events in the UK this spring, saturating media of all kinds with the 'come to Ireland' message.

In the US, a 'Flavor of Ireland' campaign will promote Irish entertainment and food. And in Germany,Tourism Ireland will promote offers through travel agents as Germans are less likely to book their holiday over the internet.

Arrangements to ensure free travel for all overseas visitors aged 66 and over are currently being finalised by Failte Ireland and Iarnrod Eireann and should be in place for March 17, Mr Gibbons said.

Irish Independent

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