It seems like the Vatican in Rome might be the only landmark on the planet that isn’t turning green to mark St Patrick’s Day around the world.
Dozens of global tourist attractions[/url] including the Great Pyramid of Giza — one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World — as well as the Sphinx will be bathed in green light next month as part of Tourism Ireland’s “global greening” initiative.
While St Peter’s Basilica in Rome might be off-limits for the celebrations for St Patrick’s feast day due to the election of a new pope, Tourism Ireland is still hoping that another famous residence — Buckingham Palace — will give the project the green light.
Irish tourism bosses have written a personal letter to Queen Elizabeth seeking permission for her official residence in London to be bathed in an emerald glow on Mar 17, but despite the overwhelming success of her state visit to Ireland in 2011, it is still unclear if the British monarch will grant the daring request.
“We wrote a couple of months ago, but it is a dialogue that is in progress. I wouldn’t be putting any pressure on people,” said Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons.
Tourism Ireland hopes the queen’s fondness for the Emerald Isle will be enhanced with the result of recent genealogical research it commissioned that will highlight the previously unknown roots of her granddaughter-in-law, Kate, the duchess of Cambridge.
Mr Gibbons said the group would unveil the results, which had authenticated an Irish connection to Kate Middleton’s family, in the near future.
Certainly turning 50 shades of green with envy, however, will be rival national tourism organisations, which can only marvel at what is one of the most expansive, yet cheapest publicity stunts in the global tourism industry.
Mr Gibbons admitted the cost for lighting up 44 iconic landmarks around the globe on St Patrick’s Day was about €34,000.
In return, he predicted that the initiative — now in its fourth year — would generate at least €10m in free publicity for Ireland — double the return of previous years.
The promotion will see a number of new landmarks added to the growing list of attractions which now regularly go green on Mar 17.
“The return on investment is the best we can get,” said Mr Gibbons, claiming the Ireland brand was “just incredibly powerful”.
In addition to the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, other landmarks going green for the first time in March include the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro; the statue of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen; the “Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas” sign; and the HMS Belfast which is docked on the River Thames in London.
Happy to reinstall emerald filters to their floodlight system are the Sydney Opera House; Niagara Falls; the Leaning Tower of Pisa; the royal palace in Monaco, Table Mountain in South Africa; New York’s Empire State Building; the TV tower in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz; and the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai.
The initiative was launched in Dublin yesterday by Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar, who declared that “even the Pharaohs are going green this year to mark The Gathering”.
Gathering pace: Cork towns urged to host US bands
The organisers of Cork’s flagship Gathering event are trying to drum up support for host towns to open their homes to marching bands later this year.
Top bands from the US and Britain are due in Cork for an international parade on Oct 19 as part of Rebel Week.
Towns and districts across the county have now been asked to host the members of one band in their locality — similar to the 2003 Special Olympics host town concept — from Oct 16 to 20. Towns or districts interested in getting involved must:
*Create a Rebel Week committee to meet regularly from March, and liaise with the band director;
*Provide enough host families to accommodate up to 50 band members;
*Provide transport to and from the airports, and to the various events;
*Create a unique educational and hands-on cultural programme;
*Provide all meals and social activities, like a welcome reception;
*And create a float to participate in the Cork Rebel and Culture Parade which will be held in the city on Oct 19.
Organiser Padraic O’Kane said a package up to a maximum of €7,500 was available to help meet the costs of being a host town.
“We will work with these towns to make sure the process of hosting the bands is simple and straightforward,” he said.
Meanwhile, county manager Martin Riordan said Cork county had, so far, pledged to organise over 280 events as part of The Gathering.
“A lot of communities see there are real things happening and there’s a major push in every town and village to ensure Cork county contributes to the plan of bringing over 300,000 extra tourists to this country in 2013,” he said as he officially launched the Courtmacsherry and Barryroe Gathering programme.
With over 28 events scheduled to date, including the annual harbour festival and regatta, horse racing on the strand, and a Food of the Peninsula festival, he said the villages have “shown the rest of the country how it should be done”.
John O’Brien, chairman of the local Gathering community, said the peninsula was renowned for its solid cooperation in which everyone worked for the betterment of the communities.
Stephen Finn, chairman of the Courtmacsherry Development Association, said local groups had organised a cocktail of events that any town would be proud of.
— Eoin English
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