With the promise of tranquility and pints of creamy Guinness, Ireland is seeking to attract harassed Londoners seeking refuge from the Olympics.
A new advertisement emphasising how London’s transport system will be overcrowded and the city clogged with visitors during the games contrasts the “madness” to the peace of the Irish countryside. The ad claims a Londoner could make it to Ireland and enjoy a pint of Guinness before a banker could cross the city to sip a latte in his office.
“Travel nightmare,” says a voiceover by Irish actor Chris O’Dowd, who starred in the movie “Bridesmaids.” “Victory won’t bring you happiness, young banker.”
The clip is part of Ireland’s 500,000-euro ($612,000) campaign to cash in on the Olympics, which are due to start on July 27. Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s government has put tourism at the center of its efforts to rebuild the economy, struggling to emerge from the worst recession in its modern history.
In Paris, which lost to London in the competition among cities to host the games, the Ile de France tourist board last month said it planned to award an all-expenses-paid trip to the French capital for two days to two British people for every gold medal a U.K. athlete wins at the games. The campaign is called “Celebrate Your Victories in Style.”
“Tourism Ireland’s ‘Escape the Madness’ campaign is targeting Londoners by presenting the island of Ireland as the ideal escape destination,” Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland’s chief executive officer, said in a statement yesterday.
London is dedicating motorway lanes for Olympians, with the games presenting a “transport challenge,” according to the organizing committee, led by Sebastian Coe.
On the busiest days, an extra 3 million journeys will be undertaken in the U.K. capital and the Olympic Road Network will affect as much as 30 percent of road traffic in Greater London, according to the website.
The reserved roads stretch from the Wimbledon tennis venue in southwest London, past Hyde Park and eastward to the Olympic Park in Newham. An evening car ride from Wimbledon to the Athletes’ Village in Stratford will be 47 minutes longer than usual, according to estimates by getaheadofthegames.com, which helps people navigate London during the event.
“While the Olympics will be an exciting time for many Londoners, the increased demand on public transport with the mass influx of sports fans, athletes and media will not be for everyone,” said Gibbons.
The Irish ad, which lasts 2:20 minutes, shows a stressed office worker battling with a heaving transport system, buses too full to stop, taxis stuck in traffic, and tourists blocking his route as he tries to get a coffee on the way to his office. Meanwhile, his friend goes to Waterford, southeast Ireland, and sips a pint of Guinness looking out to sea.
Visitor numbers to Ireland fell 19 percent between 2007 and 2011, according to the country’s statistics agency. The U.K. accounts for about 44 percent of tourists.
“How will you deal with the madness?” finishes the Irish ad. “Will you embrace it, or escape it?”