By 3 News online staff
Air New Zealand says it's not surprised New Zealand has topped a UK poll for the world's best holiday spot.
Readers of newspaper The Telegraph voted New Zealand ahead of the Maldives and South Africa, and named Air New Zealand the third-best long-haul airline in the world.
"The coastline, the cuisine, the people - people have a good experience here," deputy chief executive Norm Thompson told the New Zealand Herald.
"When you start getting mentions [like this poll] and the added exposure of The Hobbit, then we would hope to reverse the reduction in visitors from that part of the world."
Singapore Airlines was voted the best, followed by Emirates and Air NZ. Mr Thompson said the accolade was a testament to the airline's employees.
Despite this, Air NZ announced last week that from March next year, it would no longer offer its service to the UK through Hong Kong, due to a "softening" in visitor numbers.
Tourism NZ also welcomed New Zealand's victory, saying it was "great news for us to know that even in these tough economic times, long-haul destinations like New Zealand are obviously still so important and inspiring".
He credited last year's Rugby World Cup and the upcoming Hobbit premiere for boosting interest in New Zealand.
The Telegraph polled 17,000 readers on their favourite destinations and tourism companies. Cape Town topped the list of favourite cities worldwide, Italy the best European destination, and Edinburgh for those who preferred to holiday at home.