The Straits Times
Published on Nov 04, 2012

New Zealand out to mine tourist magic from Hobbit movies


WELLINGTON (AFP) - From a giant, bug-eyed Gollum sculpture looming over passengers at Wellington Airport to promotional banners covering the facades of entire office blocks, the upcoming The Hobbit movie is impossible to ignore in New Zealand.

Tourism chiefs, hoping to recreate the surge in visitors inspired by the original The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, have launched a massive marketing campaign around director Peter Jackson's latest Middle Earth three-parter.

Like the first trilogy, The Hobbit movies use New Zealand's mountainous scenery as a backdrop, amounting to what some tourism insiders gleefully describe as a nine-hour long advertisement for the country's rugged charms.

Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler does not go that far, but says the films offer the country invaluable global exposure that can be converted into increased visitor arrivals. "We aim to show potential travellers that the fantasy of Middle Earth is in fact the reality of New Zealand," he said.