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Published on : Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Statistics released Wednesday stated that tourism has overtaken dairy as the nation’s top earner of overseas dollars. Tourism officials say the success of the fantasy movie trilogy “The Hobbit” has helped in this regard. One survey showed 16 percent of tourists cited the movies as influential in their initial interest in New Zealand.
The dairy industry is struggling to recover from a slump in prices, while a record 3.4 million visitors arrived in New Zealand in the year ending September. The Pacific nation is particularly popular among tourists from Australia, China and the U.S.
Spending by international tourists was up by 20 percent in the year ending March when compared with the previous year, according to Statistics New Zealand. That follows a 17 percent rise the year before.
The industry got another boost this week when “Lonely Planet” named the relatively unknown Taranaki region as a place to visit in 2017. The travel guide noted an offbeat gallery there dedicated to the late artist Len Lye.
But while tourism is booming, income from dairy products has fallen by 22 percent over the past two years, Statistics New Zealand says.
That’s due to softening demand in China for premium infant formula coupled with a glut in the worldwide supply.
Some farmers are cashing in on the tourism boom by offering home stays or hunting trips.
New Zealanders have been traditionally outnumbered by their farm animals. With a population of 4.7 million people, the nation is also home to 29 million sheep and 10 million cows. And zero hobbits, of course, unless you count those on the big screen.
Directed by Peter Jackson, “The Hobbit” trilogy built on the success of his earlier, critically acclaimed trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings.” The six movies earned a total of nearly $6 billion at the box office.