Yesterday, I posted an article about the United States’ current mission to “rebrand” itself to encourage tourism. You can read the original article here.
Interestingly enough, today I came across an article (“In Iceland, everyone’s invited to have pancakes with the president”) regarding Iceland’s current strategy to entice travelers; its a fascinating approach to attracting tourists, and I bet its working well–the first thing I thought when I read the article below was, “I should check on ticket prices to Reykjavik….” But perhaps I’m just easily persuaded.
In reading the two articles back to back, I also couldn’t help but wonder, in light of security concerns, would the US ever be able to pull off a similar campaign in their efforts to attract tourists? Would it be successful? Would you jump at the chance for pancakes with a foreign official? I’m interested in your thoughts and opinions–so read the article below, and be sure to post your comments!
In Iceland, everyone’s invited to have pancakes with the president
By Mary Forgione Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
Suddenly, I really want to go to Iceland. The president invited me to his house for pancakes. And the mayor of Reykjavik asked me over for Icelandic sushi.
Actually, it’s not just me. These high-profile pols — and a boatload of their countrymen — are inviting visitors to come to dinner, go birdwatching, stick their feet in a geothermal pool or go for a walk with their dog.
What started as a tourism campaign to “accept Iceland’s invitation” to visit this winter has morphed into real events by real people behind those invites. Travelers can go to the website, browse the activities and click a button to accept an invitation from one or two of the 320,000 residents who live there.
But back to the pancakes. President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson is set to open the presidential palace in Reykjavik to tourists at 4 p.m. Wednesday (as in today). He’ll be serving up pancakes with whipped cream and rhubarb jam — not bloated IHOP-style pancakes, but thin little crepe-like concoctions. (If you need an invite, see the video above).
Sif Gustavvson of Visit Iceland says many travelers have RSVPd to the event that promises little fanfare or official scrutiny. “Visitors to the president’s residence are generally surprised by the lack of security,” Gustavvson says. “It’s just him at the door with his dog.” How refreshing.
Next week, travelers may visit a microbrewery in the north (Nov. 18), see three hot springs in a day (Nov. 19), go for a dive in the North Atlantic (Nov. 20) and learn to cook Icelandic fish (Nov. 22). If you stay longer, the invites can keep you busy into February.
Maybe Iceland is onto something. I like the idea of formally accepting invitations to dinner or a party in a faraway land. And returning home to tell friends you had pancakes with the president? It sure doesn’t get better than that.
So, would you have pancakes with the president? Maybe cake with the queen? Do you think an approach like this would ever work in the US? Don’t forget to post your ideas, thoughts, opinions in the comments section!