reat Britain and New Zealand, half a
world apart, have a lot of things in common -- language, heritage
and spectacular scenery, to name a few. Now they share another
bond: They're hot travel destinations thanks to blockbuster movies
based on works by British writers J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien.
As theater receipts pile up for "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's
Stone" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" --
each the first installment of a series -- travel agents have a
unique chance to sell Britain, where the Potter film was shot, and
New Zealand, where The Lord of the Rings was filmed.
Indeed, up to 30% of telephone inquiries received by British
Tourist Authority offices in New York regard Harry Potter, said
spokesman Robin Prestage.
Just after the film's November release, it accounted for half of
all calls, he said, adding, "This film will certainly help us
enormously. And when the next movie comes out, interest will
To help steer Potter fans and travel agents to film spots, the
BTA has published a map, called "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's
Stone -- Discovering the Magic of Britain," to reflect both the
film's U.K. title and its broader scope of all things magical in
While it features eight
film locations, such as King's Cross Station in London and the
Bodleian Library at Oxford, the map also details 32 other unusual
places or things, such as the steam-powered Ffestiniog Railway in
Wales and Loch Ness, home of Scotland's elusive "Nessie."
Down Under, meanwhile, New Zealand is promoting itself as the
"home of Middle Earth," with the country's www.purenz.com Web
site, featuring a 15-minute animated tour narrated by television
star Lucy Lawless of "Xena" fame.
"We can provide agents with lists of whole areas that are
immediately recognizable from 'Lord of the Rings,' such as
Matamata, where Hobbiton was built on a farm, and volcanic
Tongariro Crossing, which served as the land of Mordor," said Gregg
Anderson, regional manager, U.S. and Canada, for Tourism New
Zealand in Santa Monica, Calif.
He cautioned, however, that many film sets have been dismantled,
are on private land or are being kept secret until the release of
the sequels. Tourism New Zealand does provide related or alternate
activities at or near each film site.HARRY
Phone: (800) 968-9161
Fax: (616) 957-0103
Web: www.imagetours.comVacationkids.com (for
Virgin Atlantic Vacations)
Phone: (610) 681-7360
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.vacationkids.comTHE LORD OF THE
RINGSNewmans South Pacific
Phone: (800) 416-0667
Fax: (310) 215-9705
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.newmansvacations.com/middleearthThe New Zealand Walking
Phone/Fax: (011) 64-9 580-0087
E-mail: [email protected]
Given the interest in the two films, operators have been
relatively slow to devise tours. Part of the reason is strict
licensing by Time Warner, which owns rights to both movies, noted
Tourism New Zealand, however, worked with Time Warner and
Newmans South Pacific Vacations in Los Angeles to craft FIT
packages inclusive of roundtrip air, an eight-day car rental and a
hotel pass, starting at $1,149 per person and departing through
"We put a bare-bones package together, and travelers can build
on that," explained Wayne Stenning, vice president, who added that
Newmans can suggest self-drive itineraries such as the Elvish
Expedition, the Wizard's Way and the Hobbit's Quest. Commission
starts at 10%.
Also offering a Lord of the Rings-oriented -- but unofficial --
product is the New Zealand Walking Co., which pays 10% commission
on hikes to areas featured in the film. The group also arranges
some accommodations and meals.
By contrast, there is no authorized Harry Potter tour to
Britain, according to the BTA.
However, Image Tours of Grand Rapids, Mich., has put together an
eight-night Enchanted England Tour based on the BTA map. The tour,
departing March 23 and 30; June 23, and July 21, is priced from
$1,780 per person with air, hotel and breakfast. Commission ranges
from 10% to 17%, said Monique Kasmauskis, president.
Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic Vacations has codeveloped a Harry's
Magical London Tour with Vacationkids.com.
The first departure, priced at $1,134 per adult and $849 for
children under 11, leaves Feb. 14 for six nights in London and
includes air fare; hotel; breakfast; tours of Oxford, London and
Gloucester, and a three-day travel card.
Capacity is limited to 100 participants booked by Jan. 12.
Although the first trip is not commissionable, a July departure
might be, said Vacationkids.com founder Sally Black.
Trafalgar Tours, New York, is offering an eight-night Magical
Medieval Tour of Potter sites, priced at $995 per adult and $345
for kids ages 12 and under. Britain and New Zealand specialists
expressed interest in the films as a novel way to drive sales.
"I'm hoping to get calls about Harry Potter," said Ann Litt,
president of Undiscovered Britain, Philadelphia, which is devising
related itineraries with a London partner.
For its part, New Zealand specialist Austravel, of San
Francisco, has stockpiled Lord of the Rings information as interest
in the destination grows.
"We've noted a general increase over the last month," said Emma
Condon, supervisor. "Whether it's related to 'The Lord of the
Rings,' I can't say, but we are looking at putting together some
For more information, contact the BTA at (866) 4-HEDWIG or
Tourism New Zealand at (800) 416-0667.