Despite a rocky start and questions over commercial influence on the government, the $10 million strategic marketing partnership between Warner Bros and Tourism New Zealand (with Air New Zealand also along for the ride) seems to have done the business, with The Hobbit trilogy—and the Lord of the Rings movies before it—getting the country into the minds of numerous foreign moviegoers and helping to increase the number of visitors to our shores. But we could always do with a few more, so it's released the third and final instalment of its 'Home of Middle-earth' series.
According to the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, six percent of international visitors cited the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a deciding factor in visiting New Zealand in 2004, with one percent citing the films as the only reason for their visit. But that has increased over time and it believes the campaign "has had a significant and quantifiable impact on growth in visitor arrivals from Western markets".
- International Visitor Arrivals data for year ending August 2014 show holiday arrivals into New Zealand are up 7.2 percent on last year.
- Holiday arrivals from the United States, a key target market for the Middle-earth campaign, are up 14.2 percent on the same period last year.
- The International Visitor Survey shows that 13 percent of all international visitors surveyed July 2013 - June 2014, say The Hobbit was a factor in stimulating their interest in New Zealand as a destination.
According to Collective Concepts, Tourism New Zealand says the growth in international visits could not be explained by international economic and social factors.
"In terms of tourism, marketing the films has bought a lasting, quantifiable economic benefit to the country in a way that previous ‘location makers’ (Casablanca, The Beach) have not been able to do ... The 100% Middle Earth, 100% Pure New Zealand campaign has had fantastic results, with 21% of German visitors and 19% American visitors mentioning the campaign in their motivations for visiting, and there remain huge possibilities for tourism marketing to continue capitalising on the robust interest in the franchise."