Interest in New Zealand Rekindled by ‘The Hobbit’

USA Today has a great feature article on how tourism in New Zealand has been ticking upwards due to interest created by the filming of ‘The Hobbit.’

Here’s an excerpt:

Ian Alexander remembers the day well. He was watching a rugby match on TV when a knock came at the door. He opened it to find a location scout seeking permission to film scenes from Lord of the Rings on his sprawling sheep farm.

“I said, ‘Lord of the what? I’m just a bloody old broken-down farmer with a few sheep running around,’ ” Alexander recalls.

Flash-forward a dozen years or so, and Alexander, 70, is still on the farm. Except the old wool shed has been converted into the Shire’s Rest restaurant. And 20,000-plus visitors (some of whom speak Elvish) annually trudge through the lush emerald-green undulations of his 1,250-acre farm. And his son, Russell, a onetime accountant, is now general manager of Shire Tours.

Read the rest here.