The coming of Christ, an invasion of the alien armies of the Anti-Christ, trans-dimensional ascension to a higher plain of existence and a long awaited Mayan Apocalypse. Yes, December of 2012 was host to a number of hotly anticipated cultural events — though none more so than the release of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ to cinemas world wide. Indeed, if you even glanced at Twitter in the last month you would have found enough Bilbo and Bin Laden zingers to send you into a vibrational vortex of four dimensional bliss.
‘The Hobbit’, the fantasy tale of a band of headstrong warriors setting forth to a distant land to slay a despised foe, is expected to boost New Zealand tourism to levels enjoyed following the ‘Lord of the Rings’ film trilogy (as China Daily reported, roughly 6% of incoming New Zealand tourists claimed the trilogy as the reason for their travel) and the work is well underway on a permanent ‘Hobbiton’ attraction to capitalize on the interest.
The other must-see film of December 2012, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ (the terrorism tale of a band of headstrong warriors setting forth to a distant land to slay a despised foe), could soon precipitate the same success for Pakistan. Reuters has reported that the country of Pakistan is now planning to construct a $30 million dollar amusement park near the ground where Osama Bin Laden was killed in 2011. Much like the original on-location ‘Hobbiton’ sets built for the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films -which were taken apart after filming finished – the Bin Laden compound was demolished by the Pakistan government but now is to see new life as family-friendly activity compound complete with mini-golf, rock climbing, a zoo and perhaps even a Navy SEALs laser tag course.
Senior Regional Official Khalid Omarzi has revealed that the actual ground of the former Osama compound is likely to be used for residential units, the proposition for a public park on the grounds dismissed after fears it would become known as ‘Osama Park’. It is yet unknown when ‘Osama Flats’ will be completed but the amusement park – to be built nearby the former compound site and the Himalayan foothills – is expected to be open for the public within five years, Provincial Secretary for Tourism Jamaluddin Kahn told Reuters.
It is to be expected that others may doubt the viability of ‘Osama Land’ (as some tabloid newspaper or Fox News headline will no doubt soon call it). However, in addition to the example of New Zealand’s own tourism boost, one can see how this area of the world has proved popular in recent years: the neighboring country of Afganistan has, since 2001, become popular destination for the US military and its British and Australian allies. Will this planned amusement park do for the city of Abbottabad what the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Hobbit’ films have done for Wellington (casually called ‘Wellywood’ by what must be the most irritating people, outside of hipsters, currently in existence) in tourism dollars?
Only time will tell.