Skellig Michael PA Archive/PA Images
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Skellig Michael to get over 150 extra visitors a day after jump in boat permits

Skellig islands are expected to get an additional 150 visitors a day due to a boost in number of licensed boats.

A LOT MORE Star Wars fans will be able to visit Skellig Michael this year due to an increase in boating permits for the islands.

Under a new scheme, an additional 13 boating permits have been introduced – increasing the number of permits from two to 15. This will have a knock-on effect on the number of tourists able to visit the site, with the OPW predicting around 180 tourists a day to visit the historic site.

The permits are in demand – last year, the OPW received a total of 15 applications for the two permits available.

A total of 22 applications were received this year, an increase of seven applications on last year.

It is understood the permits can be held for up to three years. Each boat will be able to hold 12 passengers.

The Last Jedi

The islands, which are situated off the coast of Kerry saw a huge boost in global interest after they were featured in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – due for release this Christmas – is the last time the heritage site will be featured in the blockbuster franchise.

Star Wars / YouTube

Since Skellig Michael hit the big screen, fans have flocked to visit the small island, which is home to a former monastery and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tapping in on the increased attention, Fáilte Ireland also launched a new plan for the Skellig Coast in a bid to capitalise on the massive interest generated by the Star Wars movies.

However, with just two permits in operation the number of visitors to the island in recent years has been limited.

Due to the increased popularity of the islands, the Office of Public Works (OPW) decided to introduce a new permit scheme earlier this year in a bid to stop unauthorised landings on Skellig Michael.

In addition, concerns around health and safety resulted in the OPW deciding to “progressively withdraw” the existing permit scheme which had been in operation since the early 1990s.

Skellig Michael renovation work View of Skellig Michael PA Archive / PA Images PA Archive / PA Images / PA Images

In a statement to the, the OPW said each permit allows the registered boat to carry a maximum of 12 visitors per day to the islands. A spokesperson added:

Assuming a full complement of 15 boats, this equates to a maximum of 180 visitors per day, weather permitting.

Read: Stunning shots of Skellig Michael feature in new Star Wars trailer>

Read: Lonely Planet names Skellig Ring as top destination for 2017>

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