Bluff oyster attraction viable

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    Concept plans for Bluff Oyster World. Image: Gibson Group

    PLANS to develop a new multimillion-dollar tourist attraction in Bluff are moving forward, although there are several key factors to be worked through before it goes ahead.

    The proposal to develop Bluff Oyster World was first publicly touted as part of the Southland Regional Development Strategy (SoRDS) in late 2016.

    The concept for the attraction includes an oyster-themed museum and restaurant with conference/function facilities, retail space selling tourism products and fresh local produce, and potentially a hub for other tourism operators.

    Awarua Developments Ltd (ADL) director and chairwoman Aimee Kaio said a feasibility study had proven favourable so they were now in the process of putting together a business case.

    “Yes this is feasible… but there are some risks,” she said.

    “We need to encourage more infrastructure, accommodation, tour products, cafes, etc, in place beforehand to align with the building of a commercial entity of this scale.”

    ADL was established in 2016 by a group of Ngai Tahu Bluff residents to oversee projects designed to rejuvenate the port town.

    Ms Kaio said a location had not yet been finalised, but there were three potential sites they were exploring with he current owners.

    The preferred option was “tricky” because of where it was positioned and it was uncertain whether a building could be built on that site, she said.

    The development was estimated to cost between $5 million to more than $10m, she said.

    “It would require considerable investment.”

    ADL intended to submit an application to access funding from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, Ms Kaio said.

    Central government had committed to investing $3 billion over three years for regional economic development aimed at lifting productivity in the provinces.

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