We all know, and/or have visited, the Titanic Quarter in Belfast by now.
Jam-packed with cameras, selfie sticks and groups from all over the world on a daily basis, Tourists flock to NI’s beloved Titanic Belfast every week. An iconic location next to the Titanic Slipways, Harland and Wolff, and Hamilton Graving Dock – the very place where Titanic was designed, built and launched in 1912.
No surprise it was crowned “World’s Leading Tourist Attraction” at the World Travel Awards in 2016. A recent report found that Titanic Belfast generated £105 million in additional tourism spend for the Northern Ireland economy. And if anything, as time goes on, the Titanic Quarter will become even more famous and an even bigger source of merchandising revenue for Northern Ireland.
But have NI in all its global fascination and quest for continued Tourism, gone a step too far this time?
Certainly, with all of this said, it can be very easy to forget this is all based on one of the biggest sea tragedies in history.
Thus, many think the company ‘Timescape’ have lost their minds with the announcement they are bringing their latest business venture to Castle Street, Belfast – The Titanic: The Final Hour.
A Titanic themed ‘escape room’ game which will see “teams of up to 6 given an hour to try escape a simulation of the stricken liner.”
At £18 per person ticket, Timescape advertise the experience as: “It’s 11:39pm on April 14, 1912 and you’re on the Captain’s Bridge at the helm of the RMS Titanic. Suddenly, the words ring out, ‘Iceberg, right ahead’. The placid sound of night is broken forever. You and your shipmates try desperately to avoid the iceberg but are unable.
Now you only have 60 minutes to seal the water tight doors, radio for help, put on your lifejackets; release the davits and get every woman and child into the lifeboats.
You must hurry but must not panic as the water rises and time runs out.
*NO WATER IS INVOLVED IN THIS EXPERIENCE*”
Before it arrives in December, there has already been public outcry, with The Belfast Telegraph reporting the objectionable views from the President of the British Titanic Society about this latest revenue adventure: “My personal thoughts are that this is a very distasteful idea, and highly disrespectful to the memory of those who died.
The Titanic disaster was not a game.”
Timescape owners however, maintain they have “taken great care to be respectful to those who perished. Our room and its props are as historically accurate as possible, and Titanic enthusiasts will surely be impressed with the level of detail.
The Titanic is a huge part of our own heritage and history and we are aiming to further enrich that, here, right in the heart of Belfast city.”
The Belfast Telegraph Editor’s viewpoint comments that “many people will feel the creation of a Titanic ‘escape room’ in a Belfast entertainment complex trampling on the graves of the 1,500 people who perished when the ship was lost more than a century ago.
It may seem an attractive commercial theme to those behind the idea, but it is really rather distasteful.
We should remember this tragedy with due respect, especially given the doomed vessel’s association with the city.”
BBC even got hold of the story and reported on their website that “Belfast have always had an ambiguous relationship with the Titanic, unsure of how to deal with the memory of the ship which sank. As time passed, a feeling of pride in the construction of the ship overcame any hesitancy to embrace the liner, its legacy and its financial potential.”
Pride perhaps, but it goes without saying, this is not a great start for a brand new business adventure; damaged with bad publicity, public concern and major criticism, before this “fun, adrenaline raising activity” even opens.
Timescape’s promotion to Tourists is: “Don’t miss out on the Titanic room to experience a part of Belfast’s history in a totally unique way.”
Would you play this game?
(I think it’s safe to say Leonardo DiCaprio will not be taking part).
Chloe Campbell is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/chloe-campbell-337b26152 / Facebook: Chloe Campbell.