Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Fair play to Simon O'Connor and the guys down at the City of a Thousand Welcomes. This is a new site which is, on one hand asking Dubliners to become Ambassador's and with the other, offering visitors the chance to meet with one of the said Ambassadors for a pint to learn about the city.
This, well timed with the St Patrick's festival kicking off, project has plenty of merit. One of Ireland's greatest selling points is our culture and our people. We are famous throughout the globe for the Cead Mile Failte (a hundred thousand welcomes in Irish).
Some of Ireland's favourite sons and daughters have already signed up to be ambassadors, including Presidential hopeful Senator David Norris, actress Victoria Smurfit and former Miss World Rosanna Davison (how nice would it be if you could request the person to meet you!!!).
Tourism has slowed down in recent years, chiefly down to the world recession, but also, and not to the same degree, due to the perception that Ireland is expensive. Unfortunately we cannot control the first part of my last statement but we have made huge inroads into the latter statement.
But that message has to be gotten out there to the world's masses. I would suggest that if you were to ask anyone from outside Ireland what they think of when you mention the Emerald Isle, outside the usual steryotpes and movie/music stars, people will talk about scenery, craic and of course friendly people.
I was touched by a story, written by an Irish journalist who is covering the tsunami tragedy in Japan. He tells of how he was staying in a hotel near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant when he got a knock on his room door telling him they were evacuating everybody because of an explosion at the plant. He had now where to stay when a local, who didn't have a word of English, offered him a mattress in his family home. Irish people are a similar breed.
So why not get out there and sell one of our greatest tourism strengths...the people. So I've signed up to be an Ambassador.
Any visitors looking to take advantage of the new project go to www.cityofathousandwelcomes.com and of course...ask to meet OMG.
See you soon,
Ollie McGrath (OMG).