Force awakens at Skellig Michael as busiest ever tourism season begins
The force is getting stronger in Skellig Michael after tourism operators predicted the isolated Unesco world heritage site could be set to enjoy its busiest-ever tourist season.
Enquiries and bookings to visit the protected Co Kerry island have surged in recent weeks following the release of a teaser trailer of this year's Star Wars blockbuster, 'The Last Jedi'.
The breathtaking Atlantic outpost - which was used as the location of a Jedi hideaway at the end of the last instalment, 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens', took centre-stage in the two-minute trailer for the next episode in the enduring Disney space opera.
With under a week to go until the island reopens to visitors, tourism operators and boatmen, who make a living from ferrying tourists to the monastic settlement, said interest from overseas visitors was already greater than last year.
Gerard Kennedy, a B&B owner in Portmagee, the Co Kerry coastal village where most the of 15 boats licensed to land visitors on the remote outcrop are based, said his phone had "been hopping" since the release of the new 'Star Wars' trailer last month.
But Mr Kennedy, who runs the Moorings Guesthouse and Bridge Bar in the fishing village, warned that hundreds of overseas tourists face disappointment, as the boats - which can only each carry 12 passengers a day for a restricted four-and-a-half month season - are likely to be quickly booked up.
He said: "For the past few weeks I've probably been getting about 20 calls a day...It could be our busiest tourism season yet."
He added that: "We really need the visitor season extended to Skellig, because there's going to be crowds of tourists who want to get out there who just won't be able to, because the boats are going to be full."