The Evening Post
December 1, 2001

Rings Tipped to Boost Tourists
Staff Reporter

The Lord Of The Rings film trilogy could do for New Zealand tourism what Crocodile Dundee did for Australia, a travel writer for one of America's top newspapers says.

Jayne Clark is in Wellington researching a travel feature about New Zealand as the home of The Lord Of The Rings. The story will be published in USA Today, a daily newspaper with circulation of more than 2.6 million.

Clark said movies tended to spark interest in their set locations and the movie provided a reason to write about New Zealand as a whole.

Crocodile Dundee brought Australia to the attention of Americans and Canadians, in the same way that the Billy Crystal film City Slickers inspired a demand to stay at "dude ranches" in the United States.

"From a North American perspective, New Zealand is really a long way away. (Lord Of The Rings) is a reason for it to be pushed to the forefront."

Clark said she would try to emphasise New Zealand's wider appeal to people who were not Tolkien fans.

While "diehard Lord of the Rings fanatics" would enjoy visiting areas where certain scenes were filmed, other visitors would want to see the place itself and its people.

"It brings people to a place and allows them to experience and meet different kinds of people, and that's what they're looking for when they travel."

There was a lot of interest in the film in the US, she said, where the "publicity machine" was in full swing.

Clark, who is based in Washington DC, said while she felt "very safe" in New Zealand, a lot of Americans would not fly since the events of September 11.

Clark will also visit Queenstown, Taupo and Matamata.