Porthemmet Beach hoax
The Porthemmet Beach hoax was a spoof website that was set up to advertise the "best beach in Cornwall" in 2007. The site claimed that although Cornish people would often pretend not to know it, hiding its true location was an in-joke among locals. It encouraged visitors to say that they were an "emmet"; a person who loved Cornwall.
However Emmet is a Cornish dialect word for ant, and has come to be used in Cornwall as a derisory nickname for tourists and visitors, or people who have moved to Cornwall from other parts of the UK. The website's creator, Jonty Haywood from Truro, said he was inspired by a similar hoax about an "Ice Bar" in a Scandinavian city. He denied his motives were "part of a wider agenda to promote Cornish nationalism by poking fun at some of the millions of tourists who help sustain the county's economy"; it was actually about the humour in sending visitors to Cornwall "off to find an imaginary beach".
The website featured various words related to Cornwall, such as pasty and chough. It encouraged visitors to use false pronunciations, for instance, the false etymology for the name Porthemmet was said to have derived from the name "Port of Emmet", where Emmet was a Cornish saint, brother of the patron saint of Cornwall, Saint Piran. Along with the website, hoax signs to the beach were also erected around the county. However anyone following the directions ended up leaving Cornwall on the A30 road.
In July 2008, a second set of road signs appeared. Haywood later admitted his involvement.
The Porthemmet hoax sparked a mixed response from various groups. More than 2,000 people joined its page on Facebook. Malcolm Bell, chief executive of South West Tourism, thought that although the spoof had negative connotations he said people would "see the West Country humour" and any "publicity was good publicity". However VisitCornwall, the Cornwall tourism board, criticised the hoax. Others thought it reflected badly on rural communities that depended on outside revenues for survival.
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