The call of the Ring
The Hobbit trilogy of movies has had a big impact on tourist spending in one North Island region, new figures suggest.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) estimates international spending in the MatamataPiako district, the home of Hobbiton, more than tripled from $11 million in 2009 to $37m for the year to March 2014.
Matamata- Piako district mayor Jan Barnes said the figure was ‘‘fantastic’’.
She said Matamata-Piako was in the tourism triangle, with people coming to visit Hobbiton and travelling through to Roto- rua or the Waitomo Caves.
She acknowledged the huge number of tourists through the area also caused challenges with traffic but said it was an ‘‘exciting issue to have’’.
Peter Ellis, MBIE’s sector performance manager said the strong growth in tourist spend, illustrated the importance of Hobbit- related attractions for tourism in the area.
MBIE also estimated spending by international visitors throughout New Zealand rose by $600m, or 8 per cent, to $7.2 billion in the year to March. The figures exclude spending on education and air travel.
Domestic tourists spent an estimated $10.1b, up $320m or 3 per cent from last year.
Auckland continues to be the dominant destination for both international and domestic visitors, attracting 38 per cent of international spending and 21 per cent of domestic spending in New Zealand.
Another area of growth is the Queenstown- Lakes district, where international spending has increased from $860m to $1.1b in the 2009 to 2014 period. The Queenstown-Lakes district holds a 16 per cent share of international spending in New Zealand.