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Thursday 8 December 2016

Star Wars boost: Tourism Ireland predicting record 2016 with 8m visitors expected

Published 30/11/2015 | 09:16

Darth invader: A Star Wars fan poses in front of the Skelligs Rocks near Portmagee in Co Kerry. Picture by Don MacMonagle
Darth invader: A Star Wars fan poses in front of the Skelligs Rocks near Portmagee in Co Kerry. Picture by Don MacMonagle
JJ Abrams outside the Butler Arms Hotel in Waterville, County Kerry where he has been staying while filming for the new Star Wars: Episode VII. Picture by Justin Kernoghan
Skellig Michael will be used in the latest Star Wars film
Skellig Michael Island
A still shot from the new Star Wars film, 'The Force Awakens', which is to be released next month

Much in the way Game of Thrones boosted Northern Ireland's tourism, Tourism Ireland is expecting Star Wars: The Force Awakens to have a similar effect.

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Part of the new Star Wars movie was filmed on Skellig Micheal off the coast of Kerry which, at the time, faced opposition from several environmental protestors.

The tourism body says that it expects that by the end of the year some eight million tourists will have visited Ireland, making it the best year for Irish tourism ever.

Speaking about the opportunity that Ireland has to attach itself to the Star Wars brand in 2016, chief executive officer at Tourism Ireland, Niall Gibbons, told Newstalk that it will be very beneficial for Ireland.

"It’s the most anticipated movie in history as you know some of it has been filmed in Skellig Micheal. The opportunity to associate the Ireland brand with the Star Wars brand is something that’s going to be good for all of us.

"We’ve seen previous successes with HBO and Game of Thrones particularly in Northern Ireland where we achieved over €30m of estimated advertising value on a very small investment so we’re particularly excited to be associated with one of the biggest brands," Mr Gibbons said.

New marketing will be done on 'Ireland's Ancient East' in the next year following on from the success of the 'Wild Atlantic Way'.

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