Food’s stories at forefront of new strategy

The Southland Murihiku Food Tourism Strategy, which was released by Great South yesterday. PHOTO:...
The Southland Murihiku Food Tourism Strategy, which was released by Great South yesterday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The ability to access local produce is just one challenge which will need to be overcome in the implementation of the new Southland Murihiku Food Tourism Strategy.

The strategy, which was released yesterday, reveals the steps required to attract visitors based on the strength of unique food offerings, including new experiences and the development and promotion of the food sector throughout the region.

Great South destination development manager Amie Young said while Southland was well known for cheese rolls and oysters, there was a lot more to its food story.

‘‘We have a reputation for our high-quality primary produce and kaimoana direct from the region’s pristine ocean waters.

‘‘There is real opportunity for Southland to share its food, food culture and food production stories.’’

The opportunity to attract visitors to Southland based on the strength of its unique food, was identified as part of the Southland destination management strategy developed in 2019.

The latest strategy was completed after analysis was undertaken by Eat New Zealand and with the help of local specialists.

Key opportunities identified in the food tourism strategy include connecting local producers with the hospitality sector to deliver local and authentic Southland food experiences, establishing a regional food collective to support the development and promotion of Southland’s food sector, using events to showcase Southland’s special food stories and supporting local runaka to share cultural narratives about the region’s food.

Southland is one of the first regions in New Zealand to undertake such a comprehensive analysis of the potential for a food tourism industry.

Eat New Zealand chief executive Angela Clifford said she hoped other regions would follow this lead.

‘‘Connecting New Zealand’s two biggest sectors, food and tourism, would create new opportunities for everyone.’’

Among the challenges identified in the report is the difficulty for Southland businesses to access local produce.

‘‘This creates tension in the development of a thriving food travel market, as local produce satisfies travellers desire for authenticity,’’ the report says.

‘‘Getting the basics right and encouraging the development of local networks allows small producers to capture some of the value that is often lost through conventional food systems.

‘‘It can also pave the way for more unique and innovative offerings to emerge.’’

The use of local produce is key for hospitality businesses to deliver local and authentic food experiences, the report says.

‘‘To gain the most benefit for both producers and hospitality providers, strong storytelling and transparency will be required to meet the needs of food travellers.’’

The strategy will be shared with stakeholders around the region this week.

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