Sunday 25 February 2018

Force strong with Skellig tourism, while review offers a new hope...

Image from a new behind-the-scenes teaser video for Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Image from a new behind-the-scenes teaser video for Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The force is strong with Skellig Michael as the remote island saw more than 16,700 visitors this year due to the 'Star Wars' effect.

The figure is around 2,000 more tourists than in 2016, the first year after the island featured as the home of Luke Skywalker in the rebooted movie franchise's smash hit 'The Force Awakens'.

The island - which doubles as the planet Ahch-To - is to feature more prominently in the next Star Wars film 'The Last Jedi' as the location where Skywalker, played by Mark Hamill, trains aspiring Jedi knight Rey (Daisy Ridley).

However, Skellig's potential to expand as a destination for sci-fi fans may be restricted amid an ongoing review of the length of the tourist season at the Unesco World Heritage site.

Boat operators and other businesses in Co Kerry have been pushing for the season to be extended to capitalise on its new-found popularity.

Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae has said that while the World Heritage site has to be protected, local businesses should be able to benefit as well.

A spokesman for the Office of Public Works last night said that work was "ongoing" to prepare the review of the season dates.

Irish Independent

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