Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

'Ambassadors' bid to boost tourism

Politicians, musicians and artists will share a pint with tourists in a bid to boost visitor numbers

Politicians, musicians and artists are agreeing to meet up with tourists for a pint in a bid to boost visitor numbers.

Some of the country's best-known personalities have already offered to become 'ambassadors' and give a personal and free guide to Dublin.

With over 900 people already signed-up organisers were well on target for 1000 by the time the City of a Thousand Welcomes scheme kicks off on Bloomsday, June 16, the day beloved by fans of James Joyce's Ulysses.

Simon O'Connor, co-ordinator, said: "The reason that we've been pushing the idea is that Ireland has taken such a bashing recently and our identity has really been suffering internationally that we really wanted to do something that would celebrate the things that we are well known for."

Well-known names signed-up to the scheme include Gavin Friday, singer and close friend of U2 frontman Bono, artist Graham Knuttel whose works have been reportedly snapped up by Hollywood actors Robert De Niro and Sylvestor Stallone, and Desmond Guinness of the famous brewery family and founder of the Irish Georgian Society.

But Mr O'Connor said organisers also wanted non-celebrities to sign-up and share their experience of the capital.

Ambassador-hopefuls have to complete an online quiz and sign a garda security form before being accepted. And Mr O'Connor said the celebrity candidates can do as many, or as little, meet-and-greets as they wish.

The scheme is the brainchild of former Dublin publisher Trevor White, and is being sponsored by the Merrion Hotel, Bewleys Cafe and the Porterhouse bar, which have offered to give a free drink or coffee under the scheme.

"Our main proviso is that we want the ambassadors to give the tourists a warm personal welcome to the city," Mr O'Connor said.

"If they want to stay chatting longer, and if they really hit it off, and the ambassador wants to bring the tourist around the city, that's totally up to them."

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