Some key member of Northern Ireland’s tourism board either has a really dark sense of humor, or knows nothing about the creative outputs of its nation’s famous residents because, in an instance of one of its remarkably bizarre attempts to bring tourists to the region, whoever is responsible for decision-making on said board has decided that Liam Neeson is the perfect poster person to sing (or, rather, huskily growl) the praises of Northern Ireland in a new tourism advert.

Neeson, who hails from Ballymena, County Antrim, said he was “delighted” to be asked to “promote the treasures of my homeland,” adding, “I’ve always maintained that Northern Ireland is the world’s best kept secret, both in the character of its people and its scenery.”

The campaign focuses on the ordinary people who make Northern Ireland great, and marks something of an artistic departure for the 61-year-old actor, who doesn’t threaten anyone over the course of the advert’s 60 seconds, not even once. Still, what with this being an ongoing campaign and all, who knows what the tourism board have got in store for its next installment.

Alan Clarke, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), said: “Securing Liam Neeson to do the voiceover for our latest TV campaign is a huge coup and a significant vote of confidence in our tourism industry. This marks the first step of a brand new direction for NITB, which will focus on the friendliness of our people and their ability to make a place memorable.”

Well, that’s one way to look at it. On the other hand, Alan, perhaps the cultural understanding that the presence of Liam Neeson always and without fail signifies imminent gun fire and hostage negotiations will have the opposite effect and actively damage Northern Ireland’s tourism industry. Only one way to find out. Time will tell. In the meantime, if you’re planning a trip there, it would be advisable to avoid kidnapping any of Neeson’s children, if you can possibly help it.

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