Marlborough keen for Hobbit boost

RON RAYMOND
Last updated 11:22 03/01/2013
Ian Allen
Reporter Ian Allen went hunting Hobbits at Pelorus in 2011

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Marlborough was not among the filming locations in the first Hobbit movie, but the tourism officials still hope the region can cash in on the buzz created by the film franchise.

The films seem set to bring another tourism boost similar to that from The Lord of the Rings trilogy as travel websites reported significant growth in searches and bookings for New Zealand after the worldwide release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey last month.

Air New Zealand bookings from the United States were reported to have nearly doubled on the day before the November 28 world premiere in Wellington, and increased by a third in Japan after a Hobbit promotion there.

Scenes for the The Hobbit were filmed at Pelorus Bridge last year, but the decision to split the story into three films means Marlborough will not feature until the second film, which is scheduled to be released on December 13.

However, Destination Marlborough manager Tracy Johnston said the region was still hoping for a boost from the films.

The group was pushing hard marketing Marlborough in Australia, as it has during the past four years, and marketing it alongside the home of the movie franchise in Wellington.

"The whole of New Zealand is cashing in on The Hobbit. It connects New Zealand with an internationally recognised movie, which is sensational and it's increasing interest and the flow of people," Mrs Johnston said.

"For Australia, it's about us leveraging off the Wellington gateway and how easy it is to have a Wellington and Marlborough holiday."

The advertising seems to be paying off with a lot of Australian and German tourists visiting the Marlborough i-Sites at Blenheim and Picton, she said.

Any increased tourism from the films would be a good boost on the back of what has been a busy summer holiday season. "We're hearing that all sorts of experiences are busy and running at capacity."

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- The Marlborough Express

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