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U2 join drive to woo back wary US tourists

Posted on Monday, April 23 @ 06:20:32 CEST by Macphisto

(Irish Independet) -- U2 has joined the government campaign to woo wary US tourists back to Ireland following the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

Bono is expected to make an announcement from the stage at their concert in Anheim near Los Angles this evening.

The Dublin-based band will also put a copy of the announcement on their web-site and issue a statement to the world's media later today. It is a coup for the crisis hit tourism industry and it is understood to be the first time the determinedly independent rock band has ever endorsed anything.

In the statement, the band will say they are a little surprised the government asked them to get involved, but they are happy to dispel rumours that foot-and mouth has made Ireland unsafe for tourists, and go on to say it is a ridiculous misunderstanding.

The statement continues: "We would like to tell everyone that Ireland is a perfectly safe place for a vacation. All of us in the band live and work there.

It's a great place for a vacation and we hope you will continue to visit."

Last night a leading public relations consultant said securing U2's help is a huge bonus for the national effort in the foot-and-mouth crisis. He said: "It has a commercial value of millions, and because they have never endorsed any other product, more attention will be paid to U2's support for Irish tourism."

The band's support will be a huge boost for the Government's campaign in the US lead by Tourism Minister, Jim McDaid, who is leading a task force from his department and Bord Failte on a five-city US promotional tour.

One in five US consumers believe that foot-and-mouth and mad cow disease are the same illness.

Last night Dr McDaid said: "I am very appreciative of this helpful support from U2. Without doubt the endorsement that Ireland is an open and welcome tourism destination from the world's leading rock band will be of immense value in getting the message across in the US.

"The good word from Bono will reach not only U2's millions of fans but their families and friends as well."

He added: "This timely message will be a further boost to our campaign to correct misconceptions and offer reassurance that Ireland is open for tourism."

Gene McKenna writes from Los Angeles: A week-long promotional blitz aimed at rescuing the £1bn American tourism market was launched here last night by Dr McDaid.

Accompanied by Bord Failte chief executive John Dully, Dr McDaid has embarked on the "reassurance" visit to impress on prospective tourists the safety of holidaying in Ireland despite the foot and mouth problem.

Sam Smyth

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