Have you ever wondered how to show off your knowledge of our fair city, meet new people and get a free beer or coffee in the process? Well then the City of a Thousand Welcomes programme may be just the thing for you.
Coordinated by The Little Museum of Dublin, the programme is an award-winning civic initiative which allows tourists to sign up and be matched with an ‘Ambassador’ from Dublin. They then schedule to meet for a free coffee or drink, with the Ambassador providing the tourist with an authentic view of Dublin, free of charge.
Sponsored by organisations such as Fáilte Ireland, KPMG, Luas Cross City and Dublin City Council, the initiative has consistently grown since it first commenced in 2011.
“Well when we first started the programme we were hoping to get 1,000 volunteers, but within the first few weeks we had over 2,500 people looking to volunteer. Since then, we run at capacity of 2,000 visitors each year,” Simon O’Connor from The Little Museum of Dublin explains.
According to Simon, many of the Ambassadors are retired and semi-retired professionals, however a small number of students are involved in the programme as well.
Interested individuals must be over 21 and can apply online. The process also requires that you fill out a short questionnaire and take an online quiz that tests your basic knowledge of the city.
If successful, potential Ambassadors are then invited for an informal interview in The Little Museum of Dublin, where a representative of the programme will assess the candidate’s suitability, as well as asking for some general information about the candidate and their interests.
With summer positions usually filling up by March, Simon explains that despite the programme’s popularity, they are hesitant to expand the initiative for fear of it becoming commercialised.
“The programme runs so well at the moment, we have a 100% immaculate customer service… and our ambassadors are absolutely brilliant. We’ve had four years of proofing the programme in a way, but of course it’d be great if the programme was at a stage where every Dubliner felt it was obligatory to even take part and meet a tourist once,” he said.
“However we don’t up-sell and we resist the temptation to commercialise the service,” he added.
Simon admits that tourists are sometimes “baffled” by the fact the service is free. “They always wonder what the catch is, but then we just have to tell them that there is no catch,” he said jokingly.
Well with no catches involved and the chance to meet new people and a free drink, what more could you want?
For more information about the service, just visit their website here.