Belfast Telegraph

Flagging tourism in Dublin is just sign of the times

By Lindy McDowell

Should Dublin fly the Union Jack? The suggestion comes from tourism consultants who argue that flying the flag would make the city more appealing to British visitors.

They haven't gone as far as advising the Union Flag should be hoisted over the Dail and other offices of state.

This is a practical not a political suggestion - an attempt to reignite the Republic's badly hit tourism trade which has taken a right battering during the recession.

The report's authors point out: "Given the fact that no UK flag is flown over hotels, restaurants or other tourist attractions in Dublin (although up to eight other national flags can be seen), may arouse in British visitors an emotion stronger than surprise."

Is it really the case that the snub to their flag is deterring British visitors from holidaying in the south?

It may annoy a few people but I doubt very much if it's the major issue.

Although I do think it would show a measure of neighbourly maturity if hoteliers and other tourism chiefs in the Republic were to get over themselves and stick the odd flag up there to show they welcome UK business every bit as much as the Yanks and the rest of them.

Still. Never mind the flags. Having been down in Dublin over the weekend what I would really like to have seen above the modern/minimalist hotel in which we were staying would have been its nameplate.

Driving down a quite busy city centre street with the merciless Dublin traffic honking around you what you want is a big sign that tells you the hotel's name and signals you've finally found the damn place. Not some subtle design feature that you need half an hour staring at to decipher.

In fact, if Dublin tourism chiefs are reading this and want a few pointers on matters that may assist the visitors let's start with just that - pointers.

Dublin could do with less of them. But much more useful ones.

They are addicted to mad multiple signage in the south. Every street corner has a raft of signposts telling you the vague direction of every conceivable location from a 17th century burying ground to your nearest Abrekebabra.

There are a million and one signs telling you everything you don't need to know. But - particularly galling for the visiting driver - not one to let you know where you should be going.

What visitors need are big clear simple signs with street names and general directions. Like Belfast this way. Or Cork that way.

We could also do with a bit of compassion from the Dublin traffic. When I see a car up here which is wavering between lanes, looking lost and with a southern registration I make allowances. I don't beep and go ballistic.

In Dublin they would drive through you. Particularly when you've got a northern reg and are obviously lost.

There should be some sort of cross-border reciprocal policy on this. It should have been written into the Agreement.

Signposts aside we all know though that the big thing which is keeping tourists away is cost. Dublin prices are, in many cases, just lunatic.

But the city and the south (and up here too) are still overall reasonable options for the cross-water traveller. Making an effort to attract the neighbours makes economic sense.

But you always do get the sense that the Yank is very much number one in the Republic's hospitality pecking order.

In that respect, a new policy admitting the Union Jack to the standard Dublin hotel line-up of Stars and Stripes, Rising Sun, tricolours (various) and ubiquitous EU stars can hardly do any harm.

It would at least flag up that officially the British visitor is now equally welcome - and no longer regarded as coming with 800 years of baggage.


From Belfast Telegraph