Visitor numbers to the Skellig Michael Unesco World Heritage site are now more than one and a half times what is considered environmentally safe.
Figures released by the Office of Public Works (OPW) show 16,792 landings onto the island in 2018.
This is just 37 more than in 2017. However, it is substantially more than the 11,100 figure the outgoing 10-year management plan considers the “sustainable” number of visitors for the island.
The rise in the number of visitors is attributed to the popularity of Star Wars and the publicity surrounding the selection of the island.
Unesco placed Skellig Michael on the World Heritage List in recognition of its outstanding universal value in 1996. It is also one of Ireland’s most important sites for breeding seabirds both in terms of size of colonies and diversity of species, according to the OPW which has recently announced a consultation process for a new 10-year management plan for the island.