Dragon movie inspires more Americans to visit

While Middle-earth remains a key motivator for travel to New Zealand there’s a new film in town that has inspired Americans to consider a vacation down under.


Disney’s Pete’s Dragon was shot entirely in New Zealand and in August this year was released globally to overwhelmingly positive reviews. Tourism New Zealand’s marketing and publicity campaign, in partnership with Disney and Air New Zealand, sought to clearly articulate New Zealand as the home of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon. This partnership was made possible by the New Zealand Screen Production Grant.                                                         

The extensive campaign, two years in the making, has proven to be one of the most effective in the brand’s history with 92% of research participants who saw the campaign indicating that they are now more motivated to visit New Zealand as a result. 

The results are further evidence of the power film tourism can have on attracting visitors to New Zealand. 

The campaign work in America was leveraged through a targeted Facebook campaign and included extensive PR activity, a virtual reality collaboration with Disney and partnership with Air New Zealand.   

Rebecca Ingram, Tourism New Zealand’s General Manager, PR and Major Events says Tourism New Zealand can capitalise on the tourism opportunities generated by blockbuster films, including high impact broadcast partnerships, marketing opportunities and cast endorsement which drive preference for New Zealand. 

She said: “To have Hollywood legend Robert Redford describing New Zealand as ‘A country with a smile on its face’ and Bryce Dallas Howard talking about New Zealand as the most beautiful place on earth is very powerful. Film tourism is one more way we can showcase the very best of New Zealand. 

“With Disney’s Pete’s Dragon, we brought this to life with an exclusive ‘Dragon’s eye view’ flyover of New Zealand which helped to reinforce the variety of experiences that visitors can enjoy in and around the real film locations.”

 The research results showed: 

  • 1 in 3 USA consumers researched say they are aware that Disney’s Pete’s Dragon was filmed in New Zealand. Amongst those who have seen the film awareness of New Zealand as the Home of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon leaps to 59%.

  • 92% of people that recognised the PR and campaign were more motivated about the idea of a New Zealand holiday. 

The United States is New Zealand's third-largest international tourism market in terms of visitor arrivals. In the year to August 2016, 167,584 Americans holidayed in New Zealand, a 15.6 percent increase on the previous year.