SOUTHLAND needs to ramp-up its nightlife and vibrancy if it’s going to attract more people.
A recent survey by Venture Southland indicated New Zealanders had a poor perception of Invercargill’s nightlife.
The Southland Regional Development Strategy (SoRDS) group has identified “vibrancy” as a key factor in attracting more residents to the region.
SoRDS governance group chairman Tom Campbell said vibrancy, along with a welcoming community and good employment prospects, was essential.
“Certainly we do have a welcoming community, and employment here is reasonable. But if we don’t have any one of these three, in this day and age, you probably don’t move here. Increasing the vibrancy of the whole city is probably the single biggest factor [to attracting people here],” he said.
Recent results of the ongoing Southland Perception Study indicated New Zealanders generally saw Southland’s nightlife as dull.
Of those surveyed, 88% (1234 of 1403) didn’t think Invercargill’s nightlife was exciting, while 84% (1178) didn’t think Southland’s nightlife was exciting.
Invercargill Licensing Trust (ILT) marketing and sales manager Chris Ramsay said there were about 90 liquor licences held in Invercargill, with the ILT holding 16 of these.
“The hospitality industry in Invercargill and Southland works hard to meet the needs of residents and domestic and international travellers. The perceived diversity of offering which the likes of Auckland or Wellington has goes with their larger population base,” he said.
Vibrancy wasn’t just about nightlife, and Mr Campbell said a new art gallery in the city, more students, redesigning Invercargill’s retail precinct and having a new hotel built would help the city and region become more vibrant.
Better advertising of what we already had would also help, he said.
“I don’t think the vast majority of people would have a clue about what Invercargill was like, so there’s also an element of myth.”
At this month’s Invercargill City Council meeting last week, Cr Lesley Soper said the Matariki Festival recently held in Esk St “illustrated how exciting we can make the city centre of Invercargill”.
On the whole, the survey indicated New Zealanders had a positive view of Southland.
Almost a third of respondents indicated they would like to move to Southland if they could, with Southland and Nelson-Marlborough (both 17%) being the most popular destinations for relocation.
The recently released results were part of an ongoing series of Southland perception surveys undertaken in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2016.
Survey conductors in 2016 phoned people from Invercargill, Southland, Christchurch, Wellington and Taranaki (each area making up 17% of respondents), and Auckland (16% of respondents).