Well-being of Southlanders and businesses main focus

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Steel being delivered to the ILT Langlands Hotel building site in Invercargill last week. Photo: Dave Loudon Photography

DESPITE the hit to Southland’s goal of $1 billion in tourism revenue by 2025, industry supporters remain optimistic, a Great South representative says.

Last year, the Southland Murihiku Destination Strategy 2019-2029 was developed by the Southland Regional Development Agency and local tourism representatives with a goal to boost the industry.

Great South general manager for tourism and events Bobbi Brown said before Covid-19, the industry was “well on its way” to reaching the $1 billion goal.

However, there was no denying the $700 million milestone achieved took a hit during lockdown.

While some projects would slow down, nothing had dropped off the strategy, Mrs Brown said.

“Our focus has changed to other goals. It’s not so much about the dollar figure now, it’s more about the well-being of Southlanders and their businesses.”

Projects which would experience slight delays included the Rakiura/Stewart Island Museum and the Langlands Hotel, while porting docks for walking tracks and the Bluff master plan would move up the list of priorities, she said.

“The strategy is still extremely relevant because it already had that domestic market focus.”

In the past few weeks, domestic tourism spending had already started to pick up again, she said.

Auckland to Invercargill flights resuming in early July would also help “push the industry forward”.

“I’m feeling really positive about the future. There’s no doubt it’s been hard for businesses but there’s a lot of innovation coming out of the situation.”

Great South’s Rediscover Southland campaign, targeted at the domestic market, had “record engagement” online in the past few weeks, she said.

The Government’s announcement it would inject $20.2 million into regional tourism organisations had also provided some hope.

“Anything to help push the strategy forward is going to be helpful.”

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