25 Aug 2012

Hobbits seen as key to tourism promotion

4:31 am on 25 August 2012

The tourism sector says it intends using the upcoming Hobbit films to convince more travellers to visit New Zealand.

Tourism New Zealand's launching a refurbished version of its 100% Pure campaign with a $10 million advertising blitz of its key markets of Australia, United States, China, Germany and Britain.

The one-size-fits-all approach of 100% Pure has previously been criticised for not selling other sides of New Zealand, such as shopping, eateries or casinos that may appeal to some potential visitors.

But Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler says the Lord of the Rings raised New Zealand's profile, and the three-part The Hobbit film will do the same.

"These things have an amazing potential for us to reach hundreds of millions of people, far more than we could reach with (just) our own investments," says Mr Bowler.

Though there had been criticism that there was little to attract the Chinese tourists who travelled mainly to shop, Mr Bowler says that this was not relevant in light of China's 70 million international departures each year.

"We only get less than 200,000 of those, so we're not attracting your mainstream visitor," Mr Bowler says. "We're attracting people who are really interested in the outdoors, interested in nature."