Madison Square Gardens joins world landmarks going green for Patrick's Day

Tourism Ireland's global greening line-up for St Patrick's Day includes the world's most famous arena — Madison Square Gardens in New York.

Madison Square Gardens joins world landmarks going green for Patrick's Day

Tourism Ireland's global greening line-up for St Patrick's Day includes the world's most famous arena — Madison Square Gardens in New York.

Another new site going green for Ireland's national holiday is the Dubai Frame, which has been described as the biggest picture frame on the planet.

Even the Smurf Statue in Brussels will be joining Tourism Ireland's greening initiative that started 10 years ago.

Sydney Opera House in Australia was the first iconic building to turn green in 2010 and last year almost 500 buildings and monuments around the world went green.

Chief executive of Tourism Ireland, Niall Gibbons, said the global greening means that Ireland joins the top social media trends at this time of the year.

Mr Gibbons said the eagerness of cities and countries everywhere to take part in the initiative underlines the strength of the deep connection that people all over the world feel to Ireland: “More than 70m people around the world claim links to the island of Ireland and St Patrick’s Day is a truly unique opportunity to reconnect them with their heritage."

“People across the world instantly identify St Patrick’s Day with the island of Ireland and that heightened profile allows us to put the Ireland holiday experience in the spotlight — from Sydney to San Francisco and from Brussels to Buenos Aires. It gives us a great spotlight on Ireland and from a tourism perspective it is coming at a great time of year because this is the time when people are thinking when they are going to go on their holidays."

Mr Gibbons said the cost of lighting up 275 icons in more than 45 countries last year was only €49,000 so it is probably one of the most cost-effective global marketing platforms.

This year so far more than 300 buildings and monuments in more than 40 countries have gone green and the cost is currently around €20,000.

China has been a target market for tourism to Ireland and Mr Gibbons said the effect of the coronavirus outbreak is likely to be quite low as the Chinese market accounts for less than 1% of its tourism business.

“We have postponed our marketing activity in China for the time being but we are keeping in touch with our colleagues — Ambassador Eoin O'Leary and with our team out there,” he said on RTÉ radio.

However, the situation is a serious one from a global tourism perspective.

Around 160m Chinese make visits abroad, said Mr Gibbons, and the coronavirus epidemic has already had a devastating impact on countries like Japan, Thailand and Cambodia who rely on the Chinese market for up to 50% of their tourism business.

“We don't have any direct flights from China over the winter months so exposure is low but certainly a chill wind is being felt in the luxury sector in Europe and Britain and we will see cancellations over the next number of months."

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