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Bored of the rings? Then flee Olympics for Northern Ireland

People wanting to escape from the Olympics in London are to be targeted and told: “Try Northern Ireland instead.”

A campaign is being launched directly at Olympics ‘refugees ‘seeking to get away from the mayhem and madness of the 2012 Games.

Tourism Minister Arlene Foster revealed the initiative is to include advertising in train and Tube stations in London.

Tourism Ireland said the campaign is still being developed — with artwork due to be finalised in the next week — but the main aim is to target commuters.

Some surveys have suggested a quarter of Londoners are planning to leave the city during the almost month-long Olympics, with one in 20 expecting to rent out rooms or homes to cash in on the event.

A poll, commissioned by accommodation website Wimdu, questioned more than 1,000 Londoners and found one in three saying they plan to leave the city “because they did not want to face congestion when travelling”, and a further two out of five citing concerns over security.

In an Assembly response Tourism Minister Foster revealed: “Tourism Ireland will shortly launch an advertising campaign to target those Londoners who want to ‘escape’ the Games.

“The campaign will include advertising in train stations and newspapers inviting Londoners to come to Northern Ireland this summer.

“In addition, NITB is working with Visit Britain under its ‘memorandum of understanding’ to maximise a range of promotional and marketing opportunities with the London Olympics Media Centre during the Games period.”

The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) is also working closely with Tourism Ireland Ltd (TIL)and Visit Britain (VB) to ensure maximum exposure for Northern Ireland throughout Great Britain during the games.

“NITB is supporting specific London 2012 Festival/Cultural Olympiad events through the ni2012 programme of events with TIL maximising publicity around these events and around the Olympic Torch Relay, which comes to Northern Ireland in June.

“Key tourism benefits around the Games will come from contacts and media familiarisation trips with non-accredited Press and both organisations are working to bring these to Northern Ireland before, during and after the games,” the DUP minister added.

Her comments came just a few days after the Belfast Telegraph revealed soaring visitor numbers injected an extra £60m spending money into the Northern Ireland economy last year.

Provisional statistics show the total number of visitors to the province was up by 60,000 people to 1,478,000 — or 4, 400 people every day — and their collective expenditure was £61m more than the previous year, from £307m to £378m.

Mrs Foster said: “These figures are proof that overseas visitors want to come to see all that Northern Ireland has to offer, and when they do come they spend money that helps to boost the local economy.”

10 reasons to give London a break

  • Belfast — Titanic Belfast , the zoo, and city centre shopping
  • Carrickfergus Castle and walk at the Gobbins, Islandmagee
  • The Causeway Coast road
  • Rathlin Island
  • Carrick-a-rede rope bridge and Giant’s Causeway
  • North Coast — Bushmills distillery, Portrush and Portstewart
  • Londonderry — the walls, Peace Bridge and the Guildhall
  • Fermanagh lakelands, Belleek and Enniskillen
  • Armagh — the Mall, cathedrals, Navan Fort
  • The Mourne Mountains — Newcastle and Silent Valley

Belfast Telegraph