A complimentary pint and lively conversation with a local forms the basis of a new Dublin tourism initiative which is already proving popular among visitors to the nation’s capital.
Launched in June, City of a Thousand Welcomes is a new scheme which pairs tourists with Dublin locals known as “ambassadors” who offer visitors an insight into the nation’s capital, over a beverage in a Dublin hotspot. The entire service is free of charge.
“The focus for us is very much for the ordinary man and woman and it gives us all an opportunity to represent our city with pride and passion, while visitors get the chance to meet a local,” Trevor White, the project director told the Irish Voice.
“We are doing this for the benefit of visitors, of course, but also to re-invigorate Irish hospitality and encourage civic pride at a time when Irish identity has taken a bit of a bashing. “It was essential for us that it was going to be free for the visitor,” he added.
The idea was born out of an experience in a Dublin bar when one evening White and a friend extended a warm welcome to an Australian tourist who has just arrived in the city. “We bought him a pint and told him a little about Dublin,” White recalls.
Energized by the feel good factor of his evening, White later began to consider if he could repeat this experience on a more formal basis, and hence the idea behind City of a Thousand Welcomes was conceived.
With a personable approach to Irish tourism, it wasn’t difficult to find backing for the initiative, which is partnered with Fáilte Ireland, Dublin City Council and Dublin Regional Authority.
So far those who have availed of the service are independent travelers and couples. “We have had a huge number of Irish Americans,” White revealed.
The volunteers are an eclectic mix of Dubliners eager to share their knowledge of the city. They must be over 21 and are tasked with completing a questionnaire and short quiz on Dublin before securing Garda (police) clearance.
Some well known Dubliners such as presidential candidate Senator David Norris and economist and author David McWilliams have also volunteered to be ambassadors of the new initiative.
With over 2,500 volunteers already signed up, there seems to be no shortage of city folk eager to extend a helping hand.
“Once we put the word out I was blown away by the scale of the response. There is so much goodwill out there,” White said.
Tourists who avail of the service meet their ambassador in the group’s centrally located headquarters in Dublin’s Stephen’s Green.
“Then they are sent off with their ambassador for a complimentary alcoholic beverage or a cup of tea in either the Merrion Hotel, Bewley’s Café or the Porterhouse,” White said.
“A guy on Friday met a Finish couple who had just arrived. They got on so well that he ended up taking them to Glendalough and Dublin Zoo.” said White.
“We have an incredible team here and so far every visitor was come away saying they are getting a privileged glimpse at the city.”
To sign up for the free service visit www.cityofathousandwelcomes.com.