The popularity of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has caused a major growth in New Zealand tourism in general, and Wellington tourism in particular. Positively Wellington Tourism reports a 7.5% increase in international holiday arrivals, following the 12 month period since the release of An Unexpected Journey.
There were 114,112 extra visitors in 2013, together spending around $NZ365 million. All visitors to the Wellington area combined spent a total of $NZ1.6 million, or $3166 per minute.
In all of 2013, a total of 2.7 million tourists from outside of New Zealand visited the country.
Popular tourist attractions
The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings product sales at Wellington’s i-SITE Visitor Centre went up an impressive 20% compared to 2012, totalling more than $NZ200,000. Another local business that benefited from the movies a great deal is Hobbiton: a real life version of the village in the Shire from the books, where visitors can really step inside the world of The Hobbit. On the busiest day in 2013, 60 tours were given, generating a turnover of $184,500 on ticket sales alone.
In the real life version of ‘The Green Dragon’ pub in Hobbiton, tourists have consumed over 50,000 litres of Southfarthing Girdley Fine Grain Amber Ale. At one point in the year, 55 kegs of beer a week were consumed, which probably makes The Green Dragon the busiest bar in all of New Zealand.
Most visitors from Australia
Most foreign visitors came from Australia: a total of 1,218,016. New Zealand is also a popular travel destination for people from China (228,928), the United States (201,424) and the United Kingdom (191,632).
The increased popularity was also noticable in Wellington’s regional tourism website, which welcomed nearly 100,000 unique visits to its pages concerning Hobbits, Middle-Earth and filming locations.
Following the release of the second part of the movie trilogy ‘The Desolation of Smaug’, similar results for New Zealand tourism are expected for 2014. And with the third and final movie ‘There and Back Again’ set for release in December of this year, it looks like the golden times are far from over.
Free ‘The Hobbit’ audiobook
Enjoying the magical world of The Hobbit does not have to cost any money. Online audiobook store Audiobooks.com offers its new clients one free audiobook upon registering. For new or old fans of The Hobbit, this is a unique opportunity to explore the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien in a completey new way, without any charge.