Fáilte Ireland is capitalising on Skellig's appearance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Skellig Ring being named one of the top 10 regions in the world to visit next year by Lonely Planet with the launch of a visitor experience plan for the Skellig Coast area, designed to increase dwell time in the area's wider region.
The plan will focus on a number of projects based on the following themes: Journeys Inspired by the history of the Skellig Monks; the Cradle of Ireland’s Nationhood (centred on Daniel O’Connell’s birthplace); A History of Global Connections; Where the ocean meets the sky at the edge of the world (incorporating the ‘dark skies’ experience).
To complement the visitor experience plan, the Skellig Coast Tourism Network has also been launched, an umbrella organisation for the tourism, community, business and development groups that fall within the defined catchment area.
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Speaking at the launch in Waterville, Orla Carroll director of strategic development at Fáilte Ireland said: "This project is all about widening the current visitor experience from just simply being ‘a trip to Skellig Michael’ to a more immersive engagement with ‘the Skelligs Experience’. This approach will generate increased visitor dwelling times and revenue as well as help increase job creation in the local area. This plan also sets out to protect the special environmental character of the place by spreading tourist activity more evenly across the destination.
"Key to the success of the development of the Visitor Experience Plan was an extensive programme of consultations and workshops held locally between June and September last year. This inclusive approach gave everyone the opportunity to contribute to the plan and shape the visitor experiences that are unique to this area."
Commenting on the initiative, chief executive of Kerry County Council Moira Murrell said: "This development plan will help ensure continued growth in visitor numbers and will also help to extend the season and spread business to our smaller villages."