Spotlight on 100% Middle-earth

This time next week, the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be over and media coverage of the event and of New Zealand, will be reaching hundreds of millions of people world-wide.

I will be in Hobbiton near Matamata where international media will gather for their final film and tourism experience in New Zealand before heading off to the Tokyo premiere of the film.

Although numbers are still being confirmed, we anticipate significant numbers of international media from across all of our key tourism markets will arrive this week to experience the best of New Zealand.

The anticipated media coverage that will showcase New Zealand, will reach millions of potential travellers and business people globally and offers a valuable leveraging opportunity to enhance the country's international profile as a fun, must-see tourism destination; an innovative and creative nation, and a great place to make films and do business.

NZ Inc is focused on maximizing the presence of international media and promoting the country more widely than simply as the host of the world premiere.

As well as the red carpet event, the action-packed premiere itinerary includes iconic tourism experiences, interviews with the creative film-makers and artists at Weta Workshop, and legendary New Zealand hospitality.

Tourism New Zealand is also hosting a number of select media before and after the premiere in the Wairarapa, Nelson, Waikato and Rotorua regions, to demonstrate how easy it is for people to come to New Zealand, see the cinematic Middle-earth first-hand and experience all the country has to offer.

It has been an extraordinarily busy year to bring us to this point but I do not anticipate any slowing down on the Middle-earth front as we work to leverage the attention that New Zealand will achieve, and convert that into travel.

For the past year, Tourism New Zealand has been leading the NZ Inc charge to maximise the opportunities brought about by these films. We have been ably supported by partners Air New Zealand, Film New Zealand, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Regional Tourism Organisations.

Once the confetti has been cleared from Wellington streets, attention will turn to our off-shore markets. In the weeks following the premiere in New Zealand, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will host screenings for key business and trade contacts in the US, UK and Europe.

We are also working with Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures to host key contacts at premiere events in international locations, and for special screenings with Air New Zealand. These events are an opportunity to showcase the best of New Zealand - our expertise and innovation in screen production, and premium food and wine.

This month we are also thrilled to have Chinese Brand Ambassador Yao Chen back in the country for another 100% Pure New Zealand campaign shoot. Yao Chen has a staggering 26 million followers on China's Twitter equivalent "Weibo" and her love of New Zealand is made plain to every one of her followers.

Yao Chen's audience reach is something that TNZ could never afford to buy in a market like China so we make the most of every possible opportunity Yao Chen offers, to showcase New Zealand as a destination.

She has already provided the Chinese voice-over for our 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand campaign and this latest campaign shoot will enable us to associate Yao Chen even further into our Middle-earth campaign.

With Chinese visitors now New Zealand's third biggest source of visitor arrivals our work with Yao Chen is strongly focused on targeting the more aspirational Free and Independent Traveller - those seeking a quality holiday experience in New Zealand for more than just a handful of days.

Keep an eye on our Hobbit section of the website for the latest updates and international coverage received.

As published in Inside Tourism, 22 November 2012

Kevin Bowler

Chief Executive