• New Zealand gripped by 'Hobbit' fever


    Tourism officials in New Zealand have big plans to capitalize on the wave of anticipation ahead of the theatrical release of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," in December, reports NBC News.

    Fans of the original "Lord of the Rings" trilogy of movies have been making pilgrimages to New Zealand, where the films were shot, since Peter Jackson's award-winning epics hit theaters in 2001. Now, tourism officials hope that the next story of heroism in Middle Earth will continue to attract visitors.

    "It is a very big deal," Gregg Anderson, who oversees Tourism New Zealand campaigns in North America and Europe, told the news source. "We really are hoping that we will see a lift in visitor arrivals in the two-and-a-half-plus years that this [campaign] will run for."

    Tourism New Zealand's campaign, titled "100% Middle Earth, 100% New Zealand," will focus on the country's natural beauty and highlight locations that were featured in the original trilogy of movies and the upcoming "Hobbit" film.

    According to The New Zealand Herald, Tourism New Zealand has invested more than $100 million into the campaign. Deborah Gray, a marketing manager at the tourism authority, told the news source that the initiative was one of the most successful destination campaigns in the world.

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