More than four million potential GB visitors have been urged to visit Derry~Londonderry during its UK City of Culture year – by Northern Ireland rock legend Feargal Sharkey.
In a series of radio interviews, organised by Tourism Ireland as part of its year-long campaign to promote the city, The Undertones frontman spoke of his pride for his hometown, as it hosts the first ever UK City of Culture.
Talking passionately about the diverse events calendar – including the recent Fleadh Cheoil, the forthcoming Turner Prize and Hallowe’en celebrations, as well as the city’s strong musical heritage – Sharkey encouraged radio listeners across GB to check out Derry-Londonderry’s plethora of cultural offerings.
Interviews with Sharkey aired on ten GB stations in August, including BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Newcastle, BBC Radio Devon, BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester, BBC Radio Kent, BBC Radio Three Counties, BFBS, City Talk, BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio Humberside – reaching a combined audience of over 4 million people.
In one of the interviews with seasoned broadcaster Tony Blackburn, on BBC Radio Three Counties, Sharkey said: “Derry has always had an incredible pedigree when it comes to music and writing … it’s not only The Undertones … but Séamus Heaney, Brian Friel and all kinds of remarkably talented people have come out of Derry”.
“It’s been an extraordinary year… all of the people I’ve spoken to – friends and family – they’re incredibly proud.”
Sharkey also urged listeners to visit Tourism Ireland’s website, Ireland.com, which hosts DerryTV, a weekly programme featuring highlights from the City of Culture programme, before signing off by saying, “I’ll see you all there.”
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “The Sharkey radio series is the latest activity in Tourism Ireland’s packed promotional programme, which we are rolling out this year in GB and across the world, to highlight the exciting calendar of events, concerts and exhibitions that are taking place in Derry~Londonderry throughout 2013. We look forward to highlighting other major events still to come this year in the city – including the renowned Hallowe’en celebrations and the hosting of the prestigious Turner Prize.
“Great Britain is an important market for tourism to Northern Ireland and right now, we are rolling out our ‘GB Path to Growth’ strategy, which aims to return this all-important market to sustained growth. We are targeting new groups that are receptive to the type of experience Northern Ireland can offer – including the ‘culturally curious’, who are looking to explore new places and broaden their minds.”
Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture is also being highlighted to millions of cinema-goers in Great Britain this autumn. The Tourism Ireland ad is being screened in pop-up outdoor cinemas, before films like Casablanca and Some Like It Hot; and in selected cinemas around films like About Time and Austenland. And inserts featuring Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture will be distributed with the Daily and Sunday Telegraph this autumn, reaching almost 3 million people. Online and social media activity is also a strong part of the promotions, with Ireland.com set to attract almost 13 million unique visitors this year.