Award-win­ning Hob­biton rises

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By ABBY BROWN

The Hob­biton movie set has been named the Tourism Ex­port Coun­cil of New Zealand’s Op­er­a­tor of the Year.

As the two day tourism con­fer­ence, where the award was pre­sented, was held in Hamil­ton, Hob­biton had al­ready or­gan­ised to run a gala event on the sec­ond night.

The spe­cial event was com­plete with fire breathers and a guided tour for the con­fer­ence mem­bers in Hob­bit themed cos­tumes.

‘‘ Hav­ing just won the award and then show­ing the tourism mem­bers around Hob­biton the next night en­abled the guests to ex­claim ‘I can see why they won it’,’’ Tourism Ex­port Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Les­ley Im­mink said.

The coun­cil mem­bers, who are tourism op­er­a­tors from all over the coun­try, had nom­i­nated Hob­biton for the award.

The coun­cil board de­cides the fi­nal­ists who then put on a sales pitch to the mem­bers to de­cide the win­ner.

Gen­eral man­ager of the Hob­biton movie set, Rus­sell Alexan­der, said win­ning the award was a huge hon­our as it was judged by his

Photo: SUP­PLIED

AWARD WIN­NERS: From left, Rus­sell Alexan­der, gen­eral man­ager of the Hob­biton Movie Set, Les­ley Im­mink, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Tourism Ex­port Coun­cil of New Zealand and Shayne For­rest, mar­ket­ing man­ager of the Hob­biton Movie Set. GRAND TOUR, right: Tourism Ex­port Coun­cil of New Zealand con­fer­ence go­ers had a grand tour of Hob­biton last Wed­nes­day.

HOB­BIT HOLE: From left, Ross Shearer, Jake Down­ing and Robyn Cor­mack out­side a hob­bit hole.

KNEES UP: Hob­biton board mem­ber George Hick­ton, Mata­mata Pi­ako mayor Jan Barnes and Hol­i­day Parks chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Fergus Brown cer­tainly looked the part.

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