Agri-tourism, food focus in tourism plan

Bobbi Brown
Bobbi Brown
Southland's agri-tourism businesses and the region's food and beverages providers are likely to be two key features of Venture Southland's tourism blueprint document, the ''Southland Murihiku Destination Strategy'' when it is released next month.

Group manager community, tourism and events Bobbi Brown said the strategy was a framework for Southland's destination management and was developed following about six months of consultation with stakeholders and other groups.

She said it looked at ways to attract more visitors to the region to ultimately contribute to growing tourism revenue to $1billion in the region by 2025.

It also looks at how to make sure visitors have a quality experience while they were in the region.

''Agri-tourism completely fitted into that,'' Ms Brown said.

''It is a key part of tourism in Southland and of the Southland story - of who we are and what we do - and there are huge opportunities for it.

''Do they want to touch a cow, or just look at a cow through a glass window, and do they want to eat [a meal] while they were on the farm?

''Food tourism is another big thing.''

They also looked at health and safety, and providing the right infrastructure and environment as well as meeting and matching tourists' expectations with the right products.

''We want to say come to Southland as we are confident we are able to look after you.''

Venture Southland also submitted on the Government's Aotearoa New Zealand Tourism Strategy (ANZTS) consultation document last week.

Once in place the strategy would align with ''social, cultural and environmental considerations'' so that the benefits of tourism would be shared nationally, regionally and within communities.

The Government expected the number of international arrivals to reach more than 5million annually by 2024, up from 3,787,000 visitors as at June 2018.

Tourism accounted for about 20% of total exports - about $14.7billion in tourism's contribution to Gross Domestic Product and generated about 230,000 jobs.

The document asked submitters to consider how best to manage infrastructure pressures, overcrowding and environmental impacts as well as ensuring the country, the regions and communities and New Zealanders' lives benefited or were improved by tourism, she said.

Ms Brown said the strategy represented Government taking a more active role in managing tourism which Venture Southland supported, as long as it ''enabled and focused on community/industry wellbeing.''

The challenge would be to ''ensure regions are supported to drive their own tourism development and the role of government is defined and appropriately resourced to enable this.''

It was also important to focus on the regions and communities and realise ''not one size fits all and to develop a labour market/tourism strategy''.

The organisation supported the five proposed tourism outcomes including strengthening domestic tourism, investigating opportunities to convert visitors to newcomers who want to stay in Southland, and being able to provide ''exceptional visitor experiences and encouraging tourism projects that enhanced and promoted the natural, cultural and historic heritage''.

''It is about valuing what we are and what we have,'' Ms Brown said.

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