Effects of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy on Tourism in New Zealand

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Movie-Induced Tourism
An analytical report on how the Lord of the Rings trilogy has affected tourism in New Zealand

Master Thesis conducted by Marleen Kraaijenzank Tourism, Aalborg University, July 2009

Title page

Master program in Tourism 10th semester Aalborg University

Supervisor: Robert Thomsen Hand-in: July 31st, 2009 Contains 172,706 characters = 71.9 pages

This thesis was conducted by:

Marleen Kraaijenzank



In today’s modern society, movies are a big part of the everyday life. Many movies are big hits when they are released and some movies are awaited with great expectations. This was also the case for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The trilogy was incredibly popular and many went to the movies to see them. Not only did the audience like the movies, the movies were also showered with awards and prices that not many movies have achieved. Even though the movies were set in a fictional scene and based upon a book, the scenes in the movies created an urge in me to go to New Zealand to see the stunning nature that was portrayed in the movies. Being a student in the master program in tourism at Aalborg University, my curiosity made me wonder what movies can do for the tourism destination and this led to the idea of this thesis. It was rather hard to determine which subjects to study as there are many subject to look further into; however, it was found that the cultural meanings in form of the destination image and the authenticity level could be the most interesting. There are some other studies on movie-induced tourism, although this is a subject not studied much. This thesis takes some of the subjects that have not been considered much in the previous research and therefore it was found both to be interesting and a challenge to find the results.

_______________________________ Marleen Kraaijenzank July 2009


This thesis’ focus is destination image and authenticity. The purpose is to examine how destination image is affected by movies and how the authenticity level of the destination is influenced when a movie portrays a destination and creates a motivation to go to the portrayed destination. The particular focus in this thesis is the affection of the Lord of the Rings trilogy on New Zealand. All three Lord of the Rings movies were filmed in New Zealand, creating a large exhibition of the New Zealand nature. Because the movies were extremely popular, it was found interesting to look into in which way the tourism industry in New Zealand had been affected by the movies. Another point that was examined was how New Zealand used the movies in their promotion of the destination and whether this was a good or a bad thing. The analysis showed that the usage of the Lord of the Rings movies has been a very good thing for New Zealand. Because the destination image that New Zealand sends out is so consistent with the image that is created in the movies, the tourists that visits New Zealand with the Lord of the Rings movies as a motivational factor does not feel mislead. New Zealand used the Lord of the Rings as a campaign within their brand 100% Pure New Zealand, like they have used several other campaigns to keep the brand alive. New Zealand is seen as a leading figure in destination branding because they have managed to keep the brand so popular. Through the analysis it showed that the chosen theories proved that the brand is at a desired position and has a way to keep coming back to this position. It was also found in the analysis that New Zealand’s usage of the internet as a distribution channel is a very smart strategy. In the authenticity analysis of this thesis, it was found that the authenticity levels of the destination had not been destroyed as one could have feared. Neither does it seem that the tourists feel mislead on the authenticity level because the dominant tourist experience mode present in the destination is aware that not all can be authentic when...
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