Planning for Southland’s continued tourism growth is underway with an independent consultant employed to develop the Southland Murihiku Destination Strategy for 2018-28.

Stafford Strategy has been appointed to advance the Southland Murihiku Destination Strategy and will work alongside Venture Southland to implement the strategy across the region.

Venture Southland Group Manager for Tourism, Community and Events Bobbi Brown said Stafford Strategy will bring significant experience to the strategy development.

“Albert and the team have over 30 years’ experience in the tourism and economic sectors and will help Southland to benefit from tourism opportunities and establish a pathway to achieving $1billion in tourism revenue by 2025,” Brown said.

Bobbi Brown - Profile Picture

Albert Stafford, company director for Stafford Strategy, said his team was looking forward to working alongside key partners to develop a plan for destination management in Southland.

“The potential to develop tourism further across the Southland region will provide numerous employment, investment, and broader economic, environmental and social opportunities. We see a responsibility, therefore, to make sure that what we help create, offers solutions which will benefit both the community and industry representatives,” Stafford said.

Southland has seen significant growth in the tourism sector since setting the goal of $1billion in tourism revenue by 2025, with a 23.5% increase in tourism spend for the year-end since July 2015.

Brown said the strategy will be essential for Southland being prepared for the continued tourism growth that is projected.

Stafford Strategy will work closely with the Southland Murihiku Destination Strategy Strategic Advisory Group which was recently established to ensure the process is inclusive of both the sector and community.

The group includes representatives from the Southland tourism sector, Department of Conservation, Tourism NZ, Air NZ, Iwi and councils.

Rob Scott, a tourism operator from Lumsden who is a member of the group, said it was important for the strategy to be truly representative of Southland’s different communities and sectors.

“In developing a strategy we need to consider all the elements that contribute to the visitor experience, while also considering the needs of local communities, businesses and the environment,” Scott said.

Work on the strategy development is due to start by the end of October and will align both with local and national initiatives including the Welcoming Communities pilot programme and the development of the Southland Story.

The strategy was identified as a priority in the 2015 Southland Regional Development Strategy Action Plan and is being funded by MBIE and Venture Southland.