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14 Oct 2015
Bollywood A-lister Sidharth Malhotra got a taste of Wellington’s Oscar-winning film industry when he was transformed into an elf at Weta Workshop.
Bollywood A-lister Sidharth Malhotra got a taste of Wellington’s Oscar-winning film industry when he was transformed into an elf at Weta Workshop on Monday.
The Bollywood superstar – who has just been named New Zealand’s tourism ambassador to India by Tourism New Zealand – visited Weta Workshop on Monday as part of his first visit to the country, which he will be sharing with his 4.3 million social media followers.
A huge fan of The Lord of the Rings, Sidharth said the visit to Sir Richard Taylor’s world-renowned workshop was a highlight of his Wellington visit, revealing just how much work goes into the creation of every character.
“Weta Workshop is a place where the unimaginable comes alive. I was stunned when I looked at myself in an elf avatar.
“The team here is extremely talented and it was a great honour to meet Sir Richard Taylor. It totally felt like I was ready for a battle to save Middle-earth with all the armour on me.”
Following his Weta experience, Sidharth met adoring fans at Roxy Cinema in Miramar where they took selfies, got autographs, participated in a Q&A session, and chatted to the affable star.
Fans were then treated to a special screening of Sidharth’s new blockbuster, Brothers, which generated $87 million in its first week at the box office when released last month.
Sidharth’s massive popularity in his homeland, coupled with his new tourism ambassador status, could pay big dividends in terms of attracting visitors to Wellington.
With over 28 million passport holders, the World Tourism Organisation expects the Indian outbound travel market to triple over the next five years, reaching $35-$40 billion.
The number of visitors to New Zealand from India was up 24.9% (to 43,329) for the year ending August, with direct arrivals into Wellington growing by 18.4% over the same period.
Wellington’s visibility in India will be further enhanced by Sidharth’s visit, as it was when the city successfully co-hosted the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup.
Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency Chief Executive Chris Whelan says the agency is delighted to have Sidharth promoting New Zealand in India.
“Tourism New Zealand’s increasing investment in India is great news for the region, and, from a Wellington perspective Sidharth’s movie industry background makes him an ideal tourism ambassador. We will continue to work closely with Tourism New Zealand to ensure Wellington remains well-positioned to maximise this opportunity.”
Mr Whelan says Wellington’s opportunity in India goes beyond purely tourism.
“Tourism is a fantastic showcase for Wellington as a destination to live, work and study, as well as visit. India is New Zealand’s second-largest and fastest-growing source of international students.
“We are looking at ways the increased profile driven by Sidharth’s ambassadorship can be leveraged to unlock growth in the education market for Wellington.”