Bland, Australia, wants to attract more tourists

by: CONTRIBUTED: CLACKAMAS COUNTY - Holding a mock-up of a sign touting Borings relationship with Dull, Scotland, placed last year in Boring Station Trailhead Park, are, from left, Clackamas County Commissioner Tootie Smith; Rep. Bill Kennemer, R-Oregon City; commissioners Paul Savas, John Ludlow and Jim Bernard; Boring Community Planning Organization Chairman Steve Bates; and Sen. Alan Olsen, R-Canby. The small sign soon will be replaced with a much larger one on Highway 212 between the communitys two stop lights.The community of Boring gets a lot of attention because of its bland name, and now the shire of Bland, Australia, hopes to capitalize on its boring name as well.

The Daily Advertiser of Wagga Wagga, Australia, posted a story in its Feb. 25 edition about the relationship between the two.

“A quirky new tourism partnership was recognized by the Bland Shire Council in which it will pair with U.S. Pacific-Northwest community Boring and the small village of Dull in the Scottish Highlands in an effort to boost visitors to the region,” the article stated.

by: CONTRIBUTED: BLAND SHIRE COUNCIL - Barmedman, population 230, is a village in the Bland Shire in New South Wales, Australia. “Despite opposition, Bland Shire Council Mayor Neil Pokoney welcomed the new links, saying the partnership was 'comedic and fun' with him hoping the league will give the shire more notoriety to international tourists."

The league refers to the League of Extraordinary Communities, said Steve Wiege, vice chairman of the Boring Community Planning Organization. It was formed just for areas like Bland Shire, a local government area including several towns, that want to associate with the Boring brand but without affecting its favored relationship with Dull. The Bland Shire Council adopted a resolution at its Feb. 18 meeting to join the league.

“A couple of months ago Australia reached out to us,” Wiege said. “We had done a lot of work and had a good relationship with Dull, Scotland, and had other inquiries from cities with quirky names. We thought, why don't we just do it a little differently, and came up with the League of Extraordinary Communities.”

Dull also belongs to the league, but Boring's relationship with Dull won't be watered down, he said. Since Boring isn't incorporated, the community's relationship with Dull isn't officially that of a sister city, he said, but serves much the same function.

Although unincorporated Boring is home to fewer than 8,000 people and Dull consists of only about 20 homes, the pairing of the two communities has received international attention, just because of their names.

As a footnote to its story in August 2013, a year after the two communities officially "joined" in June 2012, the London Daily Mail reported, “the U.S. town of Boring, Oregon, accepted the proposal of Dull to 'pair' their municipalities, in an effort to promote tourism in both places as a play on their names.”

To an extent, it's worked.

Last year, several Boring residents visited Dull, Wiege said. He hopes people from Dull can return the visit for this year's annual Boring and Dull Festival to be held again on Aug. 9, on Boring and Dull Day, which he said has been declared a state, county and national holiday.

There was a holiday atmosphere at the first Boring and Dull Day last year. It featured “an ice cream social in the local park that featured a bagpipe player, a barbershop quartet and a flag salute honoring the two towns,” according to the Daily Mail story.

With the headline “Boring was not Dull Aug. 9,” The Outlook reported, “More than 300 people gathered at Boring Station Trailhead Park, enjoying free ice cream, several types of music, visits with new friends and neighbors, moments of levity and dedication to shared cultures and heritages. And the rain.”

And after Karen Craig of Gresham won a drawing at the festival for a “nearly-all-expense-paid” tour of Scotland, least one more tourist will be headed to Dull. Craig said she bought the ticket at the behest of her mother and Boring native Shirley Roth, who's a fan of the Boring and Dull Facebook page.

Even the Wall Street Journal did a story on the two communities and interviewed Steve Bates, chairman of the Boring CPO, which heads up the festival. In an Aug. 8, 2013, article, a WSJ headline writer had fun with “Yawns Across the Water: Boring Meets Dull in Oregon,” and reporter Joseph De Avila opened with another fun play on words: “Stephen Bates has been a Boring man for 36 years. Now he has a plan to bring excitement to town by adding a little bit of Dull.”

Puns aside, the relationship with the Scottish village is important, Wiege said, and the Boring CPO keeps up with events in Dull and reports on them regularly at meetings,

“If any other towns with a unique name wants to become part of us, we would invite them to join the other group (League of Extraordinary Communities),” he said. “It's set up not as strongly as we are paired with Dull, Scotland, but we can help promote each other's communities.”

Boring also caught the interest of Anne Beeson of the Aberfeldy Golf Club in Scotland, located close to Dull. She wrote in an email to Bates that the Ryder Cup golf tournament will be held in nearby Perthshire in September and tossed out the idea of having a small tournament at the Aberfeldy club before the Ryder Cup play begins.

“We thought it might be fun to have our own 'international' golf day on 21st September just before the Ryder Cup begins,” she wrote. “It would, of course, be called 'A Dull and Boring Golf Day!' ”

Whether any Boring golfers will take Beeson up on her offer remains to be seen, but Bland officials have taken note that the Boring-Dull partnership has received widespread media attention. Bland Shire County Deputy Mayor Liz McGlynn was quoted in the Daily Mail article as saying any publicity is good publicity.

“I hope it gets people talking and coming to the region,” she said.

The London Daily Telegraph reported on the proposal to link the three communities last year, when it reported that Bland Shire was hoping for a connection to Boring and Dull. The article quoted Bland Shire Councilor Tony Lord as telling the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that joking about a name has its benefits.

“I think over the years we've had our share of fun poked at us,” he said. “Wherever there's a deemed threat or a deemed negative, there's always an opportunity. I think that's where we need to think positively and look ahead at all the opportunities that may occur or that we can generate.”

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