Irish hotel owners offer free stays to banned Texas backpackers
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Thanks to coverage of their story by IrishCentral, three backpackers from Texas who were refused entry into Ireland last week by immigration authorities have been offered an all-expenses paid trip back to the Emerald Isle by an Irish hotel group, and now an ad featuring a cowboy is being made in their honor.
Colin Zwirko, 21, and his two friends Gavin Sides, 19, and Ben Whitehurst, 21, were refused entry into Ireland last Friday by an immigration officer who claimed she didn’t believe that they were on a backpacking trip.
After the door to Ireland was slammed in their faces, the trio, who were planning a six-month European trip beginning in Ireland, had to each pay nearly $1,900 for a flight back to the U.S.
Insulted, upset and angered at the way they were treated in Ireland, Zwirko, who saved $10,000 for his once in a lifetime trip, and his Texas buddies decided to do something about their situation and approached the media.
Zwirko’s story eventually reached Ireland, and after word got out that the Americans were turned away for not having an address on their immigration slip (they were planning to stay on the couch of a person they met through the internet but they didn’t have the address on them), floods of offers came their way.
A Dublin based hotel group, d4hotels.ie, has offered to pay for the young men’s flights, provide them with hotel rooms, food and drinks, as well as $1,000 to spend in Dublin.
“They are a going to get a massive Irish welcome,” said Anthony Kelly, the hotel group’s marketing manager. “We might give them a pint of Guinness when they arrive.”
This morning on live Irish radio, Zwirko and his friends, all from the Dallas/Forth Worth area, accepted the invitation.
“It’s been so amazing,” Zwirko told IrishCentral.
“We were live on air and we accepted their offer,” said Zwirko, who has been staying with a friend in New Jersey since the young men returned to the U.S. last Friday.
Later on Thursday afternoon, Zwirko got word that an ad campaign in their honor was being made for radio in Ireland.
"These guys...will become the greatest tourism ambassadors for Ireland in the United States," Kelly said, adding that they have even inspired an ad campaign for his company.
"We have decided to run a cowboy advertisement on radio in Ireland with a good Texan 'Yee Haw!' in honor of the Plano 3," Kelly said.
"It is what we hope is a good Texan cowboy accent in honor of the Plano 3."
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