Paul: An Instant Tourist Attraction for Middlesbrough
Some destinations toil for years building leisure parks, attractions or restoring crumbling piles so that they can attract visitors. Paul has proved there’s another way. Just pick the winners of the matches Germany has played in and then the final of the World Cup.
Paul is, of course, the octopus that has achieved his fifteen minutes of international fame by creating an astonishing record that gamblers would envy. As you will remember, Paul had two cubes each emblazoned with the flag of the playing country. He chose one- and the one he chose just happened to win. 8 times in a row. (Apparently a £10 bet would have given a return of £3,000 if you had rolled the winnings on). But Paul is now a bigger winner. At least for Sea Life in Oberhausen and Oberhausen itself.
Before the World Cup, who outside Germany was aware of Oberhausen or that there was a Sea Life Centre there? Now there has been so much publicity that the names and Paul himself are known everywhere. You can find newspaper reports across the world about Paul, there are 10 million Google links and there is even an i-phone application that has been developed. More importantly, visitors are making their way to Oberhausen and to Sea Life to see him. Being near Dusseldorf and with good rail links, it is attracting visitors from all over Germany. And foreign tourists are visiting as well.
Spain, of course, was the winner and it seems they can’t get enough of Paul. Carballino, a small town, has voted him an honorary citizen and has invited Paul to visit them for their local food festival. Which brings me to Middlesbrough. Since 1974, Middlesbrough has been twinned with Oberhausen. Yet the local evening newspaper doesn’t seem to have picked up on this link. Why doesn’t Middlesbrough invite Paul over to increase visitor numbers at some of their events? At the moment the literary festival is going on. Paul could select the winner of best book on nature. It doesn’t matter what but he would draw in the tourists. He could pick the results from Middlesbrough’s football matches next season. That’s why the mayor of Carballino is going to Oberhausen. He sees a value in Paul. Why shouldn’t Middlesbrough?