Capital tourism far from desolation
Wellington's tourism organisation is lauding the allure of Smaug's riches, as international visitors to the capital rose 7.5 per cent in the year following the world premiere of The Hobbit.
About 100,000 people lined Courtenay Place in November, 2012, for the first showing of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
The screening injected an estimated $11.7 million into Wellington's economy during premiere week.
But the impact appears to have extended further still, as international holiday arrivals in the year following the event increased 7.5 per cent.
Visitors to Wellington spend about $1.6 billion a year.
Positively Wellington Tourism chief executive David Perks said movie-themed experiences particularly had seen growing demand from international travellers.
Visitor numbers to the Weta Cave, for instance, had increased about 30 per cent.
Furthermore, the Weta workshop tour, which costs adults $20 and children aged 5 and under $10, had had 50,000 visitors in its first year.
"The increase in international holiday arrivals and demand for movie-themed experiences and products shows just how much people are willing to travel from around the world."
Perks said sales of film tourism-related products at Wellington's visitor centre had risen by more than $200,000, an increase of 20 per cent.
But PWT's website had also had 42,000 visits to its Hobbit-themed pages.
Of these, about 71 per cent were "new" visits, which Perks said made it all the more exciting.
About 4 million visits are made to Wellington each year, 750,000 of which are from overseas.
Wellington's film industry generated $828m in revenues for the year to April 2012, according to Statistics NZ figures.
This was up 67 per cent on 2011, with Wellington companies representing 60 per cent of all post-production businesses in the country.
Wellington's film industry made up almost a third of all New Zealand screen-industry revenues, including television, which wrapped at the $3b mark for the first time in 2012.