Hobbits and elves draw tourists to New Zealand

Images from 'The Hobbit' on New Zealand postage stamps. (AP)

Images from 'The Hobbit' on New Zealand postage stamps. (AP)

Figures released this month by government agency Tourism New Zealand show that international vacations to New Zealand rose 10% from January through April when compared to the same period last year. The agency said a survey indicated that 8.5% of visitors cited The Hobbit as one reason for coming and that 13% took part in some kind of hobbit-themed tourism like visiting a film set.

Warner Bros announced on Monday it will release the first teaser-trailer of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at 5pm (GMT) on Tuesday. The second film will premiere on December 13 in Los Angeles.

The trilogy is directed by New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson and shot in his home country. The opener, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, was released in December 2012. It received mixed reviews but proved extraordinarily popular with audiences, earning a little over $1-billion at the box office.

In an email, Jackson's spokesperson Matt Dravitzki said fans can expect "a surprise or two" in this week's trailer, "but I can't say anything more than that!"

A little over 500 000 tourists visited New Zealand for vacations in the first four months of the year. About the same number again visited for other reasons, such as for work or to visit relatives.

Tourism New Zealand has been running a "100% Middle-earth" marketing campaign that seeks leverage from the movies.

The Hobbit is based on JRR Tolkien's novel of the same name and traces the adventures of hobbit Bilbo Baggins as he attempts to help a group of dwarves regain their wealth and stature from the dragon Smaug. The Hobbit is the prequel to Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. – Sapa-AP

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