Waikato is poised to cash in on the new $10 million advertising campaign from Tourism New Zealand selling the country as a sort of Middle-earth.
Leveraging on the hype surrounding Peter Jackson's upcoming The Hobbit trilogy, a commercial promoting New Zealand is set to appear on screens in Australia, Japan, China, Britain, Germany and the United States.
And Waikato, which often gets left off the list of worthy Kiwi destinations, is the star of the show.
"The strength of the ads and the films is there is a lot of New Zealand shown but the Waikato is pretty prominent in that," Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler said.
The 60-second ad features scenes of New Zealand's cinematically impressive destinations.
Donut Island off Whangamata, Onemana Beach on the Coromandel and the Waitomo Caves all get a share of the spotlight while the iconic home of Hobbiton itself in Matamata is the closing shot of New Zealand that foreign audiences will see.
Last year it was confirmed that the Hobbiton set would remain open as an attraction after the films wrapped and Mr Bowler said the investment going into preparing the set as a permanent fixture for international visitors was going to "give a real boost to the community".
Bowler had no figures on potential economic boosts to come from the new campaign, saying it was "hard to put specific numbers against it" but was confident the ad made New Zealand a place that people would want to visit.
"Locations featured in the films, [as well as] places featured in the ads, are the places people will want to seek out so they can stand in the places where things were shot.
"And of course Hobbiton is obviously the first commercial place where people will want to go to."
Hamilton & Waikato Tourism chairman Alastair Calder said it was a coup for the region to be featured in such a massive way.
"The Hamilton and Waikato region is always deemed as being a non-tourist region," Calder said.
“For us to be the centre of it is probably unheard of before in the region's history."
He said Hamilton and Waikato Tourism was investigating further ways to leverage off the ad, running a parallel campaign that promotes the region in line with the films.
And while Calder acknowledged that not everyone would be happy about linking Waikato tourism with Jackson's films, he believed it would help boost tourism substantially.
"To springboard off a product that is well known is a great way to make the dollar go further.
"Whether we like it or not, if you have a major attraction that brings tourists to our region, we're all going to benefit off of it."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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