Hobbit hoped to lure Japanese tourists to New Zealand

altThe Government is using Sir Peter Jackson’s latest movie to target Japanese tourists.

John Key hopes ‘Hobbit tourism’ will arrest the steep decline in numbers visiting New Zealand.

Mr Key spent the day in Tokyo trying to convince Japanese tourists to come to New Zealand, but the figures show they simply don’t come down like they used to – and Mr Key says more needs to be done.

“They spend money, they typically stay a week or more and they’re good travellers – we want them,” says Mr Key.

But the dropoff in Japanese tourists is large: in 2008, more than 114,000 Japanese visited New Zealand, a year later it was just over 83, 000.

In 2010, it was a touch over 86,000 and in 2011 almost 76,500. And in the year to July 2012 it had dropped to 68,752 visitors.

Mr Key blames the recession, swine flu, the Christchurch earthquakes and competition from other markets.

“It’s all those things, the Japanese are aware of all those, and they are particularly sensitive travellers,” he says.

It used to be sheep that lured the Japanese south – now it’s more sophisticated. Warners hope the Japanese will travel to New Zealand to see where The Hobbit was made.

Year-on-year the number of visitors have fallen and it’s now hoped that The Hobbit can somehow arrest the slide.

So Mr Key will meet with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in a few hours’ time in Tokyo, and it’s expected Mr Key will push Mr Noda on the Trans-Pacific Partnership – the 11-country free trade deal that the Japanese refuse to sign up to. There’s a lot of push-back in the domestic market from Japanese farmers who don’t want to be flooded with New Zealand farm products, but New Zealand farmers want it because Japan is the third-largest economy in the world and if they got rid of subsidies and tariffs, it would be a windfall bonanza for Kiwi farmers.

So Mr Key will push that and he will be reminding Mr Noda that the Japanese should stop whaling in the Southern Ocean – that will be on the formal agenda tonight.

Source: 3 News

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