Star Wars exposure worth €40m in tourism advertising to Ireland
'Star Wars' filming on Skellig Michael was worth an estimated €40m in advertising to Ireland, the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) has revealed.
It coincides with more than 200,000 additional visits from North American tourists.
The increase from across the Atlantic compensates for a 7pc (200,000) drop in visits from the UK, which is a direct consequence of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
The Irish tourism industry is now worth €8.9bn annually, with €6.5bn of this coming from overseas visitors.
ITIC chief executive Eoghan O'Mara-Walsh expects an increase of 5pc in tourism numbers next year and a rise of 7pc in the value of tourism to the Irish economy.
The growth in North American tourists visiting Ireland is also anticipated to rise into double-figures again in 2018.
"It ['Star Wars'] certainly helped," he said. "In the last couple of weeks with the new 'Star Wars' movie and Skellig Michael, there's been an awful lot of coverage of the western coast and the Wild Atlantic Way."
"That's the sort of coverage and exposure that money can't buy. I think it's about €40m, the estimated advertising value of that, so it's very, very positive," he added.
A special advertising campaign has already been launched in order to exploit Ireland's connection to 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'.
In battling the tourism decline from the UK due to Brexit, ITIC wants stronger marketing campaigns targeting UK tourists.
It says that while the numbers of UK tourists travelling to Ireland is down, they are still taking holidays, just elsewhere.
Tourism Ireland expects a bumper tourism season in 2018 thanks to the success of the Wild Atlantic Way and Ancient East campaigns, along with the knock-on effect of 'Star Wars'.
"It is set to be another record year for Irish tourism, surpassing all previous records; by year-end, 10.65 million people will have visited the island of Ireland, spending €5.78bn," Niall Gibbons of Tourism Ireland said.
"For 2018, Tourism Ireland aims to build on this year's performance - growing overseas tourism revenue to €6bn (+5pc) to the island of Ireland and visitor numbers to 10.8 million (+2pc)," he added.