The lure of Middle-earth is helping sway increasing numbers of tourists to make the long journey to New Zealand.
Visitor arrivals in February were the highest ever for the month, Statistics New Zealand said on Friday, with the 301,200 visitors being about seven per cent more than February 2013.
Although arrivals from China and Hong Kong were down due to the earlier Chinese New Year, there were more from Australia, the United States and Germany.
The 2.77 million visitors who arrived in the year ended February was also up about seven per cent.
Holiday arrivals were up by 10.6 per cent in the past year to 1.3 million.
While there have been a range of influences, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s latest international visitor survey shows that the popularity of Sir Peter Jackson’s Hobbit film trilogy and the link with New Zealand as Middle-earth is a key factor.
“The latest survey data now available from October-December 2013 shows that 14 per cent of holiday travellers to New Zealand state The Hobbit trilogy was a factor in deciding to choose New Zealand as a destination,” Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler said in a statement.
“It is clear our `100% Pure New Zealand, 100% Middle-earth’ campaign is delivering significant value and has been a success from every angle.
“At a country level it is holiday travellers from Germany (21 per cent), the USA (19 per cent), China (17 per cent) and the UK (12 per cent) who were most motivated by the Middle-earth connection.”
Considering the time lapse that there can be between deciding to take a holiday and completing it, particularly for long-haul markets, Tourism NZ expects The Hobbit influence to continue for “some considerable time”.