New Zealand is celebrating 15 years as the home of Middle-earth and Tourism New Zealand says the magic is as alive as ever with record numbers of international visitors lining up for a Hobbit experience.

One in three international tourists, about 437,000 people, have some kind of Middle-earth experience in the destination and nearly one in five claim the Hobbit is a factor in choosing to visit New Zealand.

The figures were released in the latest International Visitor Survey findings from MBIE for the year to September 2016.

René de Monchy, director of PR, trade and major events for the tourist board, commented: “The country’s leveraging of its connection to Middle-earth has changed the face of New Zealand tourism and has paved the way for film tourism being a powerful drawcard for international visitors.

“Our work was designed to demonstrate how easy it is for people to come to New Zealand, experience Middle-earth’s stunning landscapes, embracing people and unique activities. Tourism is now our biggest export earner and Middle-earth continues to play a very significant role in attracting overseas visitors here. It is huge achievement to get to the 15 year milestone and see that interest is as strong as ever.”

To celebrate the milestone, the tourist board has developed Middle-earth travel, an online quiz that lets consumers see which character they are most aligned to: a Dwarf, Elf, Wizard or a Hobbit. They are then provided with a character inspired itinerary for their journey through New Zealand.

The quiz and itineraries can be found at newzealand.com

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