• In this Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015 photo, tourists take photos during a tour of the Hobbit movie set near Matamata, New Zealand. In New Zealand there are twice as many cows as people, but it's the hobbits that are really making hay. According to figures released Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, tourism has overtaken dairy as the nation's top earner of overseas dollars. And tourism officials say the success of the fantasy movie trilogy "The Hobbit" has helped.(AP Photo/Mark Baker)

    In this Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015 photo, tourists take photos during a tour of the Hobbit movie set near Matamata, New Zealand. In New Zealand there are twice as many cows as people, but it's the hobbits that are really making hay. According to figures ... released Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, tourism has overtaken dairy as the nation's top earner of overseas dollars. And tourism officials say the success of the fantasy movie trilogy "The Hobbit" has helped.(AP Photo/Mark Baker) (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Aug. 28, 2015, file photo, cows stand in a pen before they are milked on a dairy farm near Carterton, New Zealand.  In New Zealand there are twice as many cows as people, but it’s the hobbits that are really making hay.  According to figures released Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016,  tourism has overtaken dairy as the nation’s top earner of overseas dollars. And tourism officials say the success of the fantasy movie trilogy “The Hobbit” has helped. (AP Photo/Nick Perry, File)

    FILE - In this Aug. 28, 2015, file photo, cows stand in a pen before they are milked on a dairy farm near Carterton, New Zealand. In New Zealand there are twice as many cows as people, but it’s the hobbits that are really making hay. According to ... figures released Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, tourism has overtaken dairy as the nation’s top earner of overseas dollars. And tourism officials say the success of the fantasy movie trilogy “The Hobbit” has helped. (AP Photo/Nick Perry, File) (The Associated Press)

  • In this Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015 photo, tourists tour the Hobbit movie set near Matamata, New Zealand. In New Zealand there are twice as many cows as people, but it's the hobbits that are really making hay. According to figures released Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, tourism has overtaken dairy as the nation's top earner of overseas dollars. And tourism officials say the success of the fantasy movie trilogy "The Hobbit" has helped.(AP Photo/Mark Baker)

    In this Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015 photo, tourists tour the Hobbit movie set near Matamata, New Zealand. In New Zealand there are twice as many cows as people, but it's the hobbits that are really making hay. According to figures released Wednesday, Oct.... 26, 2016, tourism has overtaken dairy as the nation's top earner of overseas dollars. And tourism officials say the success of the fantasy movie trilogy "The Hobbit" has helped.(AP Photo/Mark Baker) (The Associated Press)

Tourism overtakes dairy as New Zealand's top overseas earner

Markets Associated Press

In New Zealand there are twice as many cows as people, but it's the hobbits that are really making hay.

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According to figures released Wednesday, tourism has overtaken dairy as the nation's top earner of overseas dollars. And tourism officials say the success of the fantasy movie trilogy "The Hobbit" has helped.

The change comes as the dairy industry struggles to recover from a slump in prices.

Statistics New Zealand said spending by international tourists was up by 20 percent in the year ending March when compared with the previous year. That follows a 17 percent rise the year before.

Income from dairy products has fallen by 22 percent over the past two years, the agency's figures show.

New Zealand is home to 4.7 million people and 10 million cows.