May the force (of Ireland) be with you: Tourism bosses hope to cash in on Star Wars link

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Tourism bosses are hoping the new 'Star Wars' film shot in Ireland will turn into a major draw for international visitors.

'Star Wars - The Force Awakens' spent several days recording scenes on Skellig Micheal, off the coast of Kerry.

Environmentalists criticised the use of the world heritage site - which is home to native seabirds.

But a report by the National Parks and Wildlife Service claimed there had been no adverse impact.

The movie is due to open here before Christmas and the trailer has already clocked up over 130 million views.

Tourism Ireland also plans to use our social media presence to attract overseas visitors next year.

The agency is third in the world when it comes to followers on Facebook. And it is the second most popular tourist draw on YouTube.

Tourism Ireland and Tourism Minister Paschal Donohoe will launch Tourism Ireland's 2016 marketing plans later today.

The event will also be attended by tourism industry leaders and will showcase the marketing plans for next year.

2015 has been the best year yet, with 7.9 million tourists due to visit.

The biggest growth areas for tourists are Australia – up by two-thirds, US visitors have grown by 51% since 2010, followed by a 38% rise in visitors from mainland Europe.

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