Olivia Wannan at Stuff reports:
It’s not just Bilbo journeying there and back again through Middle-earth – almost one in 10 international visitors are here for the same reason.
Tourism New Zealand figures published yesterday show overseas tourist arrivals were up 10 per cent from 2012 for the first four months of the year.
Of the one million international visitors in those months, 8.5 per cent said The Hobbit was a factor in their choice.
For one in eight tourists, a Middle-earth experience, such as visiting Hobbiton, near Matamata, was high on the to-do list.
Yet it almost all didn’t happen thanks to the Australian Hobbit Hater and his mates. And even today they attack the Government for keeping the film in New Zealand, after the Australian union initiated a global boycott of the film.
Now let us try to estimate how much money NZ has made from tourism, associated with the film (and it may increase once the DVDs go fully out with NZ tourism segments on them). 1,000,000 over four months is 3,000,000 over a year. 8.5% of that is 255,000 extra tourists.
That average spend by an international tourist is $2,697 so the direct extra spend is around $687 million a year. Recall that every time someone attacks the Government for saving the film. And no doubt if the Government had done nothing, and if the films had gone overseas, they’d blame the Government for that also.