Star Wars boosting tourism in Co Kerry
Star Wars fans are boosting tourism in Co Kerry, with online hotel searches in the county up 30% this year.
Newly-released figures show a surge of interest in the Kingdom, with British and American visitors particularly attracted to that part of Ireland. And tourism experts have put the boost down to the release of the latest instalment of the blockbuster sci-fi franchise.
Much of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was filmed on Skellig Michael, a protected island just off the coast of Kerry.
Data from Hotels.com has revealed that searches for Co Kerry on the company’s US website shot up by more than 60% in December 2015 compared to December the previous year.
UK searches have more than doubled year-on-year, going up by 160%, the statistics show.
The booking site compared searches from 18 December 2014 to January 8 last year, to 18 December 2015 and January 8 this year.
Lizann Peppard from Hotels.com said: “It’s fantastic for Irish tourism to have such iconic images of Kerry beamed around the world.
“Our research shows that film-goers are intrigued by what they have seen on screen and this, combined with a global marketing campaign by Tourism Ireland promoting the location, has all helped drive interest in Kerry.”
The number of people interested in visiting Co Kerry is likely to grow over the next couple of years, as Star Wars VIII is also rumoured to be set in part on Skellig Michael. The Unesco World Heritage site hosted Hollywood crew and stars last September as they shot part of the upcoming Disney film, which is due for release in 2017.
The insider added: “As the island is a protected site, not just because of the monastery but also because of the colony of puffins that live there, the crew had to respect a few restrictions.
“For example, only four helicopter landings were allowed. Most of the material used had to be brought in by boat.
“And despite how heavy some of it was, people working on the set had to carry it on their shoulders all the way up the steps to the various areas around the island where scenes were shot.”