The famous ‘filmscapes’ of Middle-earth which feature in Sir Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey have played a leading role in boosting tourism to New Zealand, according to new figures.
A 10 per cent increase in international visitors from January through to April compared with the same period last year shows the impact The Hobbit is having on increased motivation and arrivals, says Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler.
Survey results show 8.5 per cent of visitors cited The Hobbit as a reason for their visit and 13 per cent took part in some kind of hobbit-themed tourism such as visiting a film set.
100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand
Tourism New Zealand’s investment in marketing New Zealand’s association with The Hobbit Trilogy was paying off, said Bowler.
“Information gathered from three separate research sources is really starting to present a positive picture for the country thanks to The Hobbit Trilogy and our 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand campaign.
The results coincide with the release of the trailer for Film 2 - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - which features additional New Zealand landscapes and holds some surprises for fans, according to filmmakers. The movie will premiere in Los Angeles this coming December.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
When the first instalment in the trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey premiered in Wellington on 28 November last year, the eyes of the movie world were on New Zealand.
Around 100,000 fans turned out to see the film stars walk the red carpet and more than 200 international media covered the highly-anticipated event. Film one earned a little over $1 billion at the box office. The DVD of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which included a special feature of the cast on location in New Zealand during filming, sold nearly a million copies during the first week on sale.
Filming took place over 10 weeks in 40 locations throughout New Zealand for The Hobbit Trilogy and visitors can experience the reality of the locations through a number of different experiences - from visiting the actual film set of Hobbiton to canoeing down the river where the ‘dwarves in barrels’ scene was shot.
Fan interest in Middle-earth has been monitored by Tourism New Zealand since the launch of the 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand marketing campaign in August 2012.
Tourism New Zealand questioned ‘Active Considerers’ in seven key markets and 82 per cent of those who responded said the Middle-earth campaign increased their interest in New Zealand, and 73 per cent stated it improved their opinions of New Zealand.
As well as the 10% increase in overall visitors, holiday arrivals from the United States, a key target market for the Middle-earth campaign, were up 23 per cent on the same period last year, said Bowler.
“This increase in holiday arrivals perfectly coincides with the release of the first Hobbit film and a significant increase in our efforts to promote New Zealand as a holiday destination off the back of it.”
He said the objective of Tourism New Zealand’s Middle-earth marketing was to provide additional motivation and reason to convert potential travellers’ interest in New Zealand, into an actual booking. “And it’s working!” says Bowler.
Spectacular landscapes and scenery
The most dominant reason to consider a visit to New Zealand remains “spectacular landscapes and scenery” which was referenced by 46.7 per cent of surveyed visitors. The Hobbit rates alongside ‘getting a good deal on flights’ at 8.8 per cent, demonstrating the power of the connection between New Zealand and Middle Earth.
13.2 per cent of international visitors over January to March took in a Hobbit experience while in New Zealand, including group tours specifically visiting film sites or visiting the Hobbiton movie set.
Bowler says leveraging The Hobbit Trilogy continues to feature heavily in Tourism New Zealand’s new three-year marketing strategy with the ongoing use of the 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand campaign with significant events being planned for the international premieres of films two and three.