New Zealand’s screen industry not only promotes tourism, but is a tool for ‘soft diplomacy’, according to a new report.
The New Zealand Institute of Economics found that the global nature of the screen industry gives NZ cast, crew, directors and producers access to capital and markets around the world.
It added that co-production agreements, as formal agreements between governments, are a strong signal that two countries are willing to work together, “not just for on-screen productions but for business in general”.
The report linked this soft diplomacy with the role the NZ screen industry plays in promoting New Zealand as a tourism destination.
It said: “The screen industry contributes to promoting ‘NZ Inc.’ and New Zealand as a top tourism destination.
“Screen industry outputs such as The Hobbit trilogy showcase the beauty of New Zealand’s flora and fauna on the global stage.
“The depiction of New Zealand landscapes could be a factor in visitor decision-making when they are choosing between alternative destinations.
“When this translates into tourism or further productions, it boosts the economic spillovers from the screen industry. When screen productions are a two-country partnership they can be a way to highlight that we hold some common purpose, common values and can work together. This is ‘soft diplomacy’.”
The New Zealand Film Commission-commissioned report used the success of Waikato’s Hobbiton tourist attraction to illustrate the economic spillover benefits provided by the screen industry.
It said that total spending by international visitors in the Matamata-Piako District, where Hobbiton is located, increased from $9m in 2010 to $45m in 2015.
International visitors increased by more than 200,000 in 2013 and 2014. The economic impact of this increase in tourism was estimated to increase real household welfare by $268 million and tourism industry exports by $861 million.
It added that the impact of The Hobbit trilogy “was more significant than the Lord of the Rings due to more strategic use of promotional initiatives associated with the film, including linking New Zealand as a destination to depictions of Middle Earth.”