Europe

Iceland woos world with net event

Ash rises from the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland, 16 May 10
Image caption Icelanders are aware that their volcanic ash has hurt the country's image

First the Icesave bank left savers out of pocket, then a volcano spread ash across Europe, grounding flights - but now Iceland is fighting back.

The Icelandic government has thrown its weight behind an internet campaign to brighten up the country's image.

Icelanders have gone online en masse, to tell the world how much they love their country.

Thursday's "Iceland Hour" was aimed at kick-starting Icelandic tourism, following many cancellations.

The head of the "Inspired by Iceland" internet campaign, Einar Karl Haraldsson, told BBC News that tens of thousands of e-cards had been sent between 1300 and 1400 GMT.

He said half a million people had viewed the videos on the campaign website and "there have been two million hits on Twitter", the popular social network.

"We can already say there has been an enormous response," he said.

Mr Haraldsson, an aide to Iceland's tourism minister, said tourist bookings were "better than ever" before the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in April, but then slumped by about 15%.

The volcano spewed out clouds of ash, which led to airlines grounding their planes for fear it could damage jet engines.

It was the biggest shutdown of airspace in Europe since World War II, and affected at least 10 million passengers worldwide.

The Icelandic Foreign Ministry said the 320,000 inhabitants of the world's northernmost nation were encouraged to "go online and send messages to friends around the globe about what they like most about Iceland".

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