Films produced in New Zealand such as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are great for the country’s tourism industry, boost the entire economy and can leave a valuable legacy that lasts for years, says the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA).
TIA Chief Executive Martin Snedden says he is totally supportive of the Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key’s trip to Hollywood this week to meet with heads and senior executives of major US studios to promote New Zealand as a centre of excellence for screen production and post-production.
“The criticism of this trip is completely misplaced. Building influential personal relationships is a proven tool for business success,” says Mr Snedden.
“Films like The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit that showcase our stunning landscapes raise awareness around the world of New Zealand as a world-class visitor destination. Our tourism industry leverages off that heightened interest to convert it into bookings.”
An international visitors survey in 2004 completed following the release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy found almost 1.9 million visitors were aware the movies were made in New Zealand and 6% of those said the films were one of their main reasons for visiting. The 11,200 hardcore movie fans who said LOTR was their main reason for visiting in 2004 spent an estimated $32.8 million.
Tourism New Zealand research carried out earlier this year found that 57% of people already considering a trip to New Zealand were aware of The Hobbit trilogy and of those 87% knew they were filmed here.
“New Zealand tourism is a small player in a big, competitive international arena and films that put our landscapes at centre stage have the potential to help us cut through the crowd and motivate visitors to travel here for years after the movies are released,” says Mr Snedden.
“Unless travellers know we exist, we are never likely to get on their shopping list of potential destinations.”
Mr Snedden says The Lord of the Rings also spawned a number of tourism operations around New Zealand such as Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tours.
“The success of these operations has a positive spin-off throughout their communities, with increased visitors and expenditure in downstream businesses such as accommodation, attractions, shops, bars, cafes, petrol stations and supermarkets.
“If we can attract more big-scale Hollywood productions here, it can only be good for tourism and New Zealand.”