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Leveraging the benefits of film tourism

The release of the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again will once again put New Zealand and its stunning landscapes centre stage for movie lovers world-wide.

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The world's eyes will be on us and we have a 24-month window of opportunity to use the international attention drawn from the movies to elevate the promotion of New Zealand and convert fans into travellers.

To do this, Tourism New Zealand will use the concept 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand to underpin our campaign work.  In doing so we will increase the reach of our activity ensuring it is seen by millions we would not normally reach. Through this concept we will bring the fantasy of the movies to life - showing how easily the fantasy of The Hobbit movies can become reality in the form of a New Zealand holiday.

If you were present at TRENZ you will have seen some of the ways we will roll this out. 'Take an unexpected journey through the real middle earth' shows how we will leverage awareness of Middle-earth locations with real places in New Zealand, highlighting the activities available at each location.

And we have an amazing base to work off.

The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy elevated awareness of New Zealand's stunning landscapes and as a place that delivers a vast range of activities to enjoy.

Since 2004, an average of 47,000 international visitors visit a scene or location from the LOTR films each year. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's International Visitor Survey in 2004 showed that 85 per cent of visitors were aware that the LOTR trilogy was filmed here and one per cent cited the films as the main reason for their visit, equating to $33 million in tourism expenditure.

Of our target market, 48% are aware that New Zealand is the location of the Hobbit films and 31% are fans of the book.

This awareness will enable us to leverage the tourism message further. Our activity will continue to build international awareness of the country's scenery, as well as reinforcing that it is a place you can have amazing experiences and meet friendly, welcoming people.

Over the next two years you will continue to see our campaign work incorporate these messages, connecting the landscapes of Middle-earth with the experiences of New Zealand.

New Zealand's association with The Hobbit movies also presents a wider opportunity to enhance its international profile as an innovative and creative nation, and as a great place to make films and do business. A number of government agencies are working together to build a complete a 'New Zealand story' covering the tourism, film, and business sectors.

We continue to work closely with Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema, MGM, and Sir Peter Jackson's Wingnut Films to maximise the opportunities offered by global interest in the films and will keep you updated with developments.

First published in Tourism Business June - July 2012 issue

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Kevin Bowler

Chief Executive