Region growth plan unveiled

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A PLAN has been devised for economic and social growth in Southland – with a particular focus on improving Bluff.

Southland’s regional development agency, Great South, formulated the Southland Murihiku Destination Strategy 2019-2029, which would use tourism as a tool for helping grow both population and social and economic well-being.

Two main goals were set: to reach $1 billion visitor spend by 2025 and to grow overnight visitation to 1.3 million by 2029.

Several items revolved around Bluff in the “tier one high-priority investment projects”. These were a Bluff Southern Marine Discovery Centre, Bluff Ferry Terminal Tourism Development Hub, boutique regional accommodation, Maruawai Precinct Development and options for Milford Sound.

Other recommended actions included a focus on major events, experiences such as through Dark Skies Interpretive Centre, infrastructure and transport, as well as a focus on sustainability such as Freedom Camping Policy and wildlife management.

At a breakfast held for the strategy launch, Great South board chairman Ian Collier said the region represented “the stern of the waka”, and Bluff Hill being the stern.

“It is not the end of State Highway 1, it’s the bloody beginning of SH1 and it’s about time everyone understood that.”

He said their job at Great South was not to develop the economy – that was down to business, commerce and communities.

“We’re here to support and facilitate that.”

Chief executive Ann Lockhart said the ongoing plan for Great South was to diversify the economy and assist with the transition to a low-emission economy.

Part of the strategy for economic diversity offered opportunities within the film industry and aquaculture.

“As you all know, we’ve had a number of movies filmed here, I’m pretty sure that with the $1.5 billion TV series of Lord of the Rings, Southland will be well placed for contribution there.”

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