Coming to a head!

Coming to a head!
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DID you know scenes from the latest Star Wars movie were shot in County Clare? Not many do, and that's because the locals prefer it that way.
The secrecy comes as surprise to people living in a region where ‘Game of Thrones’ locations are trumpeted form the rooftops. Then again, our tourism infrastructure hasn't been under the same strain as our west coast neighbours. Not yet, at least.
If you've been stuck in traffic between Portrush and Portstewart on Easter Sunday or queued to get through Bushmills on a bank holiday, you'll know a successful tourist industry is not without costs. 
And there’s no sign growth in visitor numbers is slowing down any time soon.
That's why the National Trust enlisted Cillian Murphy to help avert the approaching ‘overtourism’ crises.
His organisation, Loop Head Tourism has managed to do just that in an area of County Clare that 10 years ago was facing similar problems to those emerging on the Causeway Coast. Which takes us back to Star Wars.
“We explicitly refused to take part in the international marketing of Star Wars on purpose,” he told the Chronicle.
“The easy thing - and what every other community in Ireland would have done - would have been to say ‘bring it on’. But we understood the consequences of that.
“It was about the community having the confidence to promote, manage and market their region in a way that works for them.”
Cillian Murphy was speaking to the Chronicle at the first of the Trust's public engagement events last week aimed at gathering locals' views on addressing the impact of tourism.
The answer isn’t as most people would suppose; widening roads, building bypasses and car parks, plus all the other infrastructure needed to accommodate vast numbers that increasingly successful marketing campaigns are bringing in. Rather, its about changing the market and reconsidering how an area is promoted.
“What has happened to places like here, is that they are the victims - and I would call them victims - of intensive marketing by national agencies who have very little skin in the game when it comes to managing the consequences,” he continued..
“If you increase the infrastructure to match the demand, the demand just keeps growing. I’ve spoken to 20 people here today and most of them are impacted negatively.
“We are flipping it on its head. We are looking at our community assets and saying; work with what you have. And there are local solutions put forward by local people who know the area better than anyone.”
Cillian's home patch, Loop Head, sits just off the main road that transports hoards of visitors  between the Ring of Kerry and the Cliffs of Moher, then onto Galway and Connemara.

For more see this week's Ballycastle Chronicle 

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