Tuesday, 17 November 2015

More on hobbits and tourism

A few weeks back, I posted about the impact of Lord of the Rings on tourism arrivals in New Zealand. The conclusion was that there was a short-term rise in tourist arrivals to New Zealand after the films, but that the effect did not persist in the longer term.

Last week the Herald ran a story about the impact of the Hobbit films on local tourism, specifically tourist spending in the Matamata-Piako District (where the Hobbiton Movie Set is located). The story was backed up by an impressive data visualisation on the new Herald Insights site. From the story:
The Hobbit film trilogy has catalysed a spending surge in the Matamata region by tourists from the likes of Australia, Germany, United Kingdom and North America.
The amount spent in the area by those tourists has risen at a greater magnitude over the past five years, relative to 2009 spending, than in any other region in New Zealand.
Of course, this is great news for the Matamata-Piako District, as it means more tourist spending, and more jobs in tourism, accommodation, and other services. However, it doesn't mean that overall tourist arrivals have increased (thankfully the Herald story doesn't imply this either), and one might rightly wonder which areas may have lost tourism spending as a result of tourists flocking to Matamata instead?

MBIE's regional activity report is an outstanding interactive tool for taking at least an initial look at these questions. Expanding on the Herald's example, German tourists' spending in Matamata-Piako increased by 535% between 2009 and 2014. The big losers (of German tourist spending) over the same period appear to be Porirua City (down 50%), Hauraki District (down 40%), and Palmerston North City (down 28%). See here for details.

It is also worth noting that German tourists were responsible for just 1.9% of tourist spending in Matamata-Piako in 2014. The trend in increased spending is apparent across many groups for Matamata-Piako - there are similar (but not as large in relative terms) spikes for spending by tourists from the rest of Europe (excluding Germany and the UK), the U.S., Canada, and Australia. But not for China or Japan.

So, an overall win for Matamata-Piako, but hard to say whether it is a net win for New Zealand.

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