Hobbit effect running strong in attracting visitors

About 29 per cent of holiday visitors say they have a "Hobbit-related" experience while in New Zealand, Tourism NZ said.
About 29 per cent of holiday visitors say they have a "Hobbit-related" experience while in New Zealand, Tourism NZ said.

New Zealand has the opportunity to keep enjoying the 'Sound of Music effect' from its film industry, the country's tourism marketing agency says.

Around half of visitors to Salzburg cite the film made over 50 years ago as the reason they visit the city and Tourism New Zealand manager of PR and Major Event, Rebecca Ingram said the Hobbit movies could have the same affect.

About 160,000 international holiday visitors or 18 per cent last year cited The Hobbit trilogy as the reason for their initial interest in New Zealand. This had grown from 17 per cent last year.

"There's no reason why New Zealand can't be another Salzburg and have a really long tail," she said.

While it was difficult to calculate their contribution to the $11.8 billion of money spent by visitors, it could be extrapolated that 18 per cent of that stemmed from interest in the movies, said Ingram.

"Even without a new film being released we're still seeing growth in people citing it as an influence. There's momentum and those experiences are now iconic New Zealand experiences and on must do lists.

"We'll be working hard to maintain that. We'll be working to ensure that New Zealand is top of mind as a place to visit for people engaging with the books," said Ingram at the Trenz travel event in Rotorua.

About 29 per cent of holiday visitors say they have a "Hobbit-related" experience while in New Zealand, she said.

That could be going to Weta Workshop, going to Hobbiton near Matamata, settings near Queenstown or investigate the hills of Mount Victoria where Lord of the Rings scenes were filmed.

Air New Zealand's Boeing 777-300, decorated with the 54m dragon Smaug, from Peter Jackson's film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Photo / Richard Robinson
Air New Zealand's Boeing 777-300, decorated with the 54m dragon Smaug, from Peter Jackson's film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Photo / Richard Robinson

Hobbiton was now attracting 460,000 visitors a year and in peak summer months tours were running every 10 minutes.

"These are significant numbers and we're seeing growth," she said.
Admission is $79 per adult at the attraction.

New Zealand film settings were unique because visitors had great access to them.
She said an HBO viewer poll last year voted New Zealand the number one film destination in the world, ahead of New York (Sex and the City) and Ireland (Game of Thrones).

The next big opportunity for New Zealand to leverage off the film industry was the release of a Disney movie in August, Pete's Dragon. It was filmed in the redwood forest in Rotorua and Tapanui.

- NZ Herald

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