Here’s a story I love.
As reported by eTurboNews, a travel industry news reporting service, the northern Ireland town of Bushmills is “faking prosperity” in an effort to draw more tourists.
Bushmills is best known as one of the temples of Irish whiskey, but it has fallen on hard times of late, resulting in a fair number of abandoned homes and shops and a drop-off in tourist visits. Besides its four-century-old tradition of whiskey making, Bushmills is a gateway to the Giants Causeway, a dramatic natural formation that resembles stepping stones leading into the sea.
So the town has called on “cosmetic enhancement,” as eTurboNews describes it, a facelift of sorts for a dozen or so boarded up buildings that had become a blight on Bushmills’ main street.
Known as the “Brighter Bushmills Project,” the enhancements include empty houses adorned with artistically painted-on windows and doors, “complete with (painted) people observing passersby outside,” the story continues. Meanwhile, farm animals are depicted emerging from shop doorways.
The art project, which cost 30,000 British pounds, helps to give the impression that the town is vibrant and bustling.
And it’s been a success, says local official Aidan McPeake: “The village has been very popular this year.”
Bushmills isn’t the only northern Ireland village to undergo such touch-ups, but it’s the most extensive project yet. A bonus: Two of the formerly deserted shops now have tenants.
As McPeake sums it up: “Obviously the locals would much rather see the properties filled and in use all the time, but this is the next best thing.”
So let’s hoist a glass to the good folks in Bushmills who are relying on some creative measures to boost tourism. I hope baby boomers will pay a visit — and that some struggling towns and cities in the U.S. will take note.
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