Tourism Ireland, the tourist board for Ireland, has launched an initiative to boost visitor numbers to the Emerald Isle.
Irish football fans heading to the 2012 UEFA European Football Championships in Poland and Ukraine, travelling with Ryanair via Dublin Airport, will be offered one of 2,000 giant green hands.
“Visitors repeatedly tell us that what distinguishes Ireland from other destinations is the friendliness of the Irish people and the warm welcome that people receive when they come here,” said Niall Gibbons, chief executive officer of Tourism Ireland.
“Ireland’s football fans always generate immense goodwill when they travel abroad to support their team – even going back as far as Italia ’90 when we saw how the fans became ambassadors for Ireland through their good humour, wit and friendliness.
Working in partnership with budget airline Ryanair, which has 20,000 Irish fans flying to the Championships, Tourism Ireland is hoping to capitalise on the Euro 2012 fever spreading through the country.
“Euro 2012 is another excellent platform for us to remind fans from across Europe about what Ireland has to offer,” added Mr Gibbons.
Tourism Ireland has also recently launched a campaign offering Londoners the chance to “escape the madness” of the Olympics by heading to Ireland, selling the country as the ideal spot for travellers to recharge their batteries.
The in-station billboards and online marketing, which will begin closer to the start of the Games, bring the campaign cost to €500,000.
“The Olympics is a great sporting occasion but the eight million Londoners are going to have great difficulty,” said Michael Ring, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport.
“They are expecting thousands upon thousands of people. There will be 18 million extra journeys on the Tube and people going about their day-to-day lives are going to find it difficult for these few weeks.”