Green for go as global icons to get St Patrick's Day treatment
The largest global St Patrick’s Day promotional drive in the history of the State was launched to coincide with the Gathering yesterday by Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar.
Dozens of the world’s major landmarks will turn green this March 17th, including for the first time the pyramids of Giza, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, the “Welcome” sign in Las Vegas, and the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen.
The “Global Greening” initiative will cost the State approximately €35,000, according to the Minister – but yielded a return of €5 million last year. Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons said he expected that figure to double this year.
The list of landmarks which will turn green is also a growing one with negotiations ongoing to add to the number between now and St Patrick’s Day.
“We have a list of monuments that we want and they are a work in progress, but everyone is open to it,” said Mr Gibbons. “Some buildings are commercial and they want large fees but that’s not the space that we’re in.”
Mr Varadkar said “some of the ones we’d really like to get want money”, but the State “just can’t justify spending large amounts” on them.
Mr Gibbons said Buckingham Palace would be “the ultimate” landmark on the list of sites he would like to see go green. “We wrote a couple of months ago but that is a dialogue that is in progress,” he said. He also said Tourism Ireland – as part of the genealogy television show Who Do You Think You Are – has traced the ancestry of Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton to Ireland. “We have a report on that, which we will be launching in due course. There is an authenticated connection with all the relevant certificates.”
Mr Varadkar said it was “early days” to judge the success of the Gathering – but that it is on target so far. “The number of people using Dublin Airport was up about 3 per cent in January compared with last year, but it really gets going from March on.
“So far we are where we expected to be, although I wouldn’t like to be claiming it as a success just yet.”
He said the Gathering’s target of an additional 325,000 visitors, which will generate about €170 million for the economy, was “realistic rather than modest” because the global economy is “very weak” and economies in our main markets are “particularly weak”.
“The British market is very difficult. It was down just over 3 per cent last year. That is largely because the British economy is very weak – fewer British people travelled abroad last year than 10 years ago, which is extraordinary,” Mr Varadkar said.
The St Patrick’s Day drive this year will see promotions in at least 44 cities, while there will be 17,000 “enablers” in 20 cities, which are “people who can influence the Gathering’s agenda”, said Mr Gibbons.
Television advertising, which will be launched on March 11th, will reach 20 million people in Britain, another 20 million people in North America, and 37 million people in Germany and France, according to Tourism Ireland.