May 29, 2001
NZ Cashes In on Tolkien Movies
NEW ZEALAND is gearing up for an influx of tourists as the hype for the film adaptation of JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy gathers pace.
The first film, The Fellowship ofthe Ring, is not due to be released until December. But in New Zealand, where it was shot, tourism chiefs are already formulating marketing strategies on the back of the films, which have been called the largest and most expensive movie project ever conceived.
"We are negotiating with New Line Cinema on the rights available to us for promotion," said a spokesman for the New Zealand Tourist Board, adding that they were expecting "a good spin-off from the film".
The entire country will be involved, as locations have been selected in both the North and South Islands, although there is an emphasis on Wellington - now known locally as "Wellywood". But tourists are advised that reports of a proposed Lord of the Rings theme park are untrue.
"Unfortunately there's been a lot of misinformation about a possible Lord of the Rings theme park," said Itina Saffioti, spokeswoman for Wellington City Council. "We have no plans for that."
Even so, the film should add considerably to New Zealand's already booming tourism industry, which now supports one in 10 jobs and represents 16 per cent ofthe country's export earnings.
The recently published New Zealand National Tourism Strategy 2010 outlines the 10-year plan to invigorate the national tourist industry which is already thriving from a vogue for holidays in New Zealand.
In the 10 years to December 2000, the number of visitors to the country increased by 85 percent, and international visitor arrivals in 2000 totalled 1.8 million, an increase of 11 percent on 1999.