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Tolkien tourism is a phenomenon of fans of The Lord of the Rings fictional universe travelling to sites of film- and book-related significance. It is especially notable in New Zealand, site of the movie trilogy by Peter Jackson, where it is credited as having raised the annual tourism numbers.

Contents

Origins

The three films (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) based the novel by J. R. R. Tolkien were shot in various locations throughout New Zealand, and many of these locations have been preserved and altered to encourage the tourism that makes up a significant portion of the country’s economy. Tourists sometimes travel dressed as characters from the books or films, indulging in what is known throughout fandom as cosplay.[citation needed] Avid fans traveling to both well-known and obscure locations related to The Lord of the Rings are referred to as Tolkien tourists.

In New Zealand

New Zealand is in a unique position to capitalize on its scenery. Tolkien tourist attention is less geared towards visiting New Zealand's national parks and more focused on scenery that was used as back drops in movies. For example, Mount Olympus, dramatic pillars of rock carved out by nature and time, sits in Kahurangi National Park near Nelson in a remote corner of the South Island. Since it featured in The Fellowship of the Ring, the first of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Mount Olympus has become a spot for Tolkien tourists.[citation needed]

It is the same for a beech forest in Paradise near Queenstown. On screen, these are the woods of Lothlórien, home to Tolkien’s elves. These, and other locations around New Zealand, have become famous as the set of Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

Film NZ—the national film promotion board—advertises that New Zealand offers an English-speaking, largely nonunion work force, along with a kaleidoscope of urban and rural landscapes. "Experience New Zealand, Home of Middle Earth," urges Tourism New Zealand's Web site(reference outdated)[1], and once tourists get there, they are invited to find film locations around New Zealand with a free "Middle Earth map." Currently New Zealand is negotiating with Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema, the films' producers, to construct a permanent Lord of the Rings museum for some of the 40,000 props and costumes now warehoused in New Zealand.[2]

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Economic effects

The annual tourist influx to New Zealand jumped from 1.7 million in 2000 to 2.4 million today - a 40 percent surge - which some have attributed to be to a large degree due to The Lord of the Rings phenomenon.[citation needed] "You can argue that Lord of the Rings was the best unpaid advertisement that New Zealand has ever had" (Gilsdorf, 2008), remarks Bruce Lahood, US and Canadian regional manager for Tourism New Zealand.[3]

Activities

Tolkien tourists often own memorabilia such as replica props or blueprints from the films and books.

There are many Lord of the Rings fan clubs and many Tolkien Tourists regularly attend Lord of the Rings conventions (called "cons"), often dressed as one of the characters. Some cons such as Anime Expo and ComicCon are not LotR specific, but still feature LotR booths and events.

Jan Howard Finder, the science fiction writer, has organized special hostel-based tours of New Zealand to see places filmed in Lord of the Rings.[4]

See also

References


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