Iceland’s tourism agency has recently been running a contest on their website to rename the country. Can you blame them?
The thinking is that the name has been keeping travelers from experiencing the glory and beauty that is Iceland. People, the tourism agency correctly surmises, look at the name and think of a barren wasteland, cold and desolate.
Greenland, in fact, is seldom green. Iceland, in fact, is seldom frozen. One is covered by ice, one by vegetation. The obvious solution would be a quick switch of the two names. The problem, of course, is the Greenland tourism agency, which has been fooling world travelers for years.
Hey. It ain't green here. What up wit dat?
I’ve only known two people who have been to Greenland. Each was forced. One served time in the military on a base at the top of the world. He spent his days dreaming of a time when his gonads would reappear. The other poor soul to have returned from a visit to Greenland did so while a graduate student in zoology. She went there to study tundra and its effects on the reindeer population.
Don’t look at me.
She chose the major.
Iceland, on the other hand looks to be a nice enough place with temperate climate and fast food, yet has been visited by no one. In photos it looks kind of like Wisconsin, without the masses of people wearing foam rubber cheese heads. People visit Wisconsin. No people visit Iceland.
Gotta be the name, right?
The web site's proposed name change would not set precedent. Zimbabwe was once named Rhodesia. Balize was once British Honduras. Albert Brooks was once named Albert Einstein. Or, perhaps, it was the other way around.
We’re all agreed that no one wants to spend their vacation time in a place named for ice. The new name should be something attractive to travelers. Paradise Island is a great name, but already taken; As are Nice, California, Loveland, Colorado, and Tranquility, New Jersey.
The name must sound good rolling from the tongue. Barbados. That has a nice ring. Jamaica. Morocco. Sri Lanka. They all sound wonderful and exotic, and none of them conjure images of frozen wastelands.
On the other hand, there are a small list of countries whose names sound like diseases you might contact if you visit: Nicaragua, Indonesia, Eritrea, Lichtenstein, Djibouti. Their names make it sound as if there is a long list of preventative shots you must receive before visiting and of those places.
I would also recommend to the new Iceland (whatever it ends up being named) to stay away from directional titles. There’s nothing worse than being from North or South, east or West somewhere, name wise. You end up being lumped in with people you don’t like. Ask the folks from Wheeling if they like being seated at the card table with those from Richmond at Thanksgiving dinner.
The same goes for "New". It was the habit of countries full of money and power to stick a flag in land and call it "New" where they were from - New England, New York, New Coke. Boring. Think of something original.
And nothing can be worse than being named as a “only” direction. You’re from South Africa? Where’s North Africa? Whattaya mean there is no North Africa? Then why do you call yourselves “South” Africa?
It’s all very confusing and not very beneficial to travel or tourism.
And so, given the current state of world economies and impending climate change, might I suggest a new name for Iceland that might attract a few more vacationers on a limited budget?
We’d like to welcome, as the newest member state of the United Nations – the country of Happy Hour Beach Bar. I’ll meet you in the twin capital cities, Two For One, at five o’clock. We’ll drink and laugh at Greenland.