Thursday, 18 October 2007

Ireland - friendliest place or a triump of myth over substance?

Lonely Planet seems increasingly to be considered the definitive voice in determining how desirable a country is as a travel destination. When they proclaim Ireland the world’s most friendly country, even given the facetious tone of the criterion applied (assessing the United States the comment is ”all they ask is that you leave the shoe bomb at home”), the opinion will be listened to.

It is therefore worth considering briefly whether Ireland is in fact inordinately friendly, or whether this laurel has been bestowed on our island largely due to lazy cliché.

I work on the presumption that this “honour” applies to the whole of Ireland, given that there is no specification to the contrary and the horrendously platitudinous summation reads “these days after the end of the 'Troubles', a cautious optimism reigns supreme, infecting the land once again with the feeling that anything's possible”.

Presumably then, the compiler of this list did not start their holiday by getting the airbus from Belfast International Airport and proffering the driver a £20 note in payment. In fact given the findings, I’d be relatively sure they avoided public transport altogether.

It seems unlikely also, that such elevated findings would have been forthcoming had the visitor(s) taken a taxi in Dublin or Belfast and got unto the subject of immigrants. The most welcoming country in the world if you’re not intending to stay or take a job!

Whether Ireland is the friendliest country in the world to visit as a tourist, really isn’t for someone who lives here to answer. It is a commonly held perception that it is, and whether this is down to successfully marketing a myth or not, that perception is being strengthened by this Lonely Planet list.

Incidentally – Latvia isn’t on the list! Quelle surprise!

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