Tolkien tourists bring in big bucks

The author of The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook is predicting Sir Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy will double New Zealand's Tolkien tourism receipts to around $270 million per year.

Matamata based Ian Brodie, who recently left his role as communications manager for the Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tours and is working on The Hobbit Location Guidebook, said The Lord of the Rings had been worth $135 million a year in tourism receipts to business operating around the film locations and the introduction of more locations for The Hobbit would see tourists visiting more places nationally.

"What we have go to realise with film tourists is that it's not just people visiting film locations it's people staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, going to other places," Mr Brodie said.

He also authored a behind the scenes book on the shooting of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Mr Brodie, whose Hobbit book is due for publication by Harper Collins in December to coincide with the second Hobbit movie, said Sir Peter's movies and the work of Narnia director Andrew Adamson had changed how people thought about New Zealand.

"Film shapes how people think about a landscape and the effect is usually emotive. When they visit the location in real life they revisit those emotions."

Films like King Kong, also from Sir Peter, and James Cameron's Avatar had very little effect on New Zealand because they were mostly studio based.

"I would like to go to Pandora," Mr Brodie said. "I would rather go there than Skull Island."

Ireland, where the HBO television series Game of Thrones is filmed, was seeing a similar boom, Mr Brodie said.

Mr Brodie, who has a New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to tourism and writing, is giving a free public lecture to the New Zealand Geographical Society in Room I2.22 at the University of Waikato in Hamilton on Thursday at 7.30pm.