Struggling Irish Town Lures Tourists With Faux Storefronts

PHOTO: Bushmills Storefront RepaintedCathal McNaughton/Reuters
A man stands in front of an empty building, which has been covered with artwork to make it look more appealing, in the village of Bushmills on the Causeway Coast, Aug. 19, 2013.

A struggling Irish town is using the arts and ingenuity to restore life and tourism to its streets.

After the economic downturn forced many of its businesses to close, Bushmills, Northern Ireland--where the whiskey bearing the same name was first distilled--was left with few resources to attract travelers. But a new arts-restoration campaign called the "Brighter Bushmills Project" is changing that by painting over shuttered shops with vibrant scenes of commerce.

The local council raised 30,000 pounds for the project last year, with some donated by the Bushmills distillery. It is considered the most expansive project tackling dereliction in Northern Ireland.

"Around a dozen vacant units have been given a facelift, including an old-style cobblers where a worker in a flat cap mends shoes," according to a report by Reuters. "A bakery with appetizing bread and cakes is depicted up the road with a barber shop and bookmakers nearby."

Other scenes include farmyard animals walking through doorways and people peering from windows.

The new faux storefronts have given travelers en route to the Giant's Causeway, a famous collection of interlocking rock formations, reason to stop and linger. And since it started, the program has even seen two previously shuttered shops reopen.

"It's been successful in bringing color to areas where it had been absent for a period, and it's obviously a really positive step," Bernard McMullan, a representative of Tourism Ireland, told ABC News. "Every town is always looking for ways to make their individual communities better, not just for tourists but for those who call it home."