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The Empire State Building will be one of many world landmarks decked out in Irish green for St. Patrick's Day 2010

The green party! Massive global Irish celebration for St. Patrick's Day

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The Empire State Building will be one of many world landmarks decked out in Irish green for St. Patrick's Day 2010

In a major coup for Irish tourism, iconic buildings and attractions around the world including the Sydney Opera House, the London Eye, the Empire State Building and the CN Tower in Toronto, among others, will turn green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

This unique initiative was announced by Tourism Ireland today when it unveiled plans for the biggest-ever promotional program of activities to showcase Ireland in the run-up to St. Patrick’s Day around the world.

Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “Over seventy million people around the world claim links with the island of Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day is a truly unique opportunity to showcase our wonderful tourism product to a huge audience across the globe, as people instantly identify St. Patrick’s Day with Ireland.

"The agreement to allow us to 'green' such iconic buildings and attractions must be a first for any destination, and clearly illustrates the goodwill that the Ireland brand generates across the world. We will use every opportunity to capitalize on Ireland’s heightened profile to showcase the uniqueness of a holiday on the island – the diversity of our culture and heritage and the friendliness of our people.”

“Tourism Ireland’s St. Patrick’s program will span Britain, mainland Europe, North America, Australia as well as new and developing markets such as China, India and South Africa. There will be saturation coverage of the island of Ireland across the airwaves, in newspapers and across digital media. We aim to bring a smile to the world. The message is that there has never been a better time to visit the island of Ireland. The St. Patrick’s program is an integral element of our overall first-half marketing drive aimed at restoring overseas tourism to growth in 2010,” said Gibbons.

In the important U.S. market, Tourism Ireland has a host of consumer and trade promotions taking place from East to West in the run-up to St. Patrick’s Day and during the spring, in which up to 100 Irish tourism industry representatives will participate. These include the Philadelphia Flower Show (bigger than the Chelsea Flower Show) and the Canada Blooms show in Toronto. Two major roadshows – spanning Boston, New York and Chicago and Atlanta, Dallas and Houston – are also planned to capitalize on the profile generated by St. Patrick’s activities.

Commenting on the year ahead, Gibbons said that Tourism Ireland’s mission in 2010 is to return overseas visitor numbers to growth.

“We are aiming to grow visitor numbers by three percent this year – attracting an additional 230,000 visitors – giving a 2010 target of 7.85 million. This outcome will mean that tourism to the island of Ireland will grow ahead of the competition. Our global website www.discoverireland.com, received a record 13 million visits in 2009, which is most encouraging and illustrates a continued strong interest in the island of Ireland, despite the challenging environment. We aim to convert that interest into sales in 2010.”

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