Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tourists Do Matamata

Sleepy little Hobbiton will be shaken awake by the tromp-tromp of thousands of orc feet very soon!
A record number of tourists on a pilgrimage to JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth are expected in the once sleepy Waikato dairying town of Matamata.
Numbers through the tourist info office are expected to double to around 400,000 in the coming year, following the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Part 1 at the end of this month.
Sue Whiting, manager of the Matamata Public Relations Association, says the town now knows what to expect following the release of a Tolkien movie, having enjoyed three films in 2001, 2002 and 2003. She expects the first of the Hobbit trilogy to break the 2004 record of 360,000 visitors to Matamata and edge close to 400,000: "We went from an average 50,000 visitors a year before the first film in 2001, to a record of 360,000, the year after Return of the King in 2004. We've never really stopped since then and there's massive interest in the new movie."
Set builders, returning the Hobbiton movie set on a sheep farm near Matamata to a film-ready condition over the past few years, have helped boost the local economy. And the new improved Hobbiton employs around 50 staff including 10 gardeners.
The veil of secrecy around the movie set (which attracts hundreds of visitors per day) has finally been lifted. And Hobbiton with its hobbit holes has been restored to its former glory for The Hobbit trilogy. Sir Peter Jackson has also enlarged the set with additional hobbit holes - that's 44 in all.
From Hobbiton's lakeside Green Dragon pub, rebuilt for The Hobbit after being burned to the ground for The Return of the King, punters will be able to enjoy a swift beer as they conclude their tour of the set.
PS: 24 Nov.2012 - The Hobbit jet is revealed!

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