Increasing visitor numbers, coupled with welcoming host communities, has driven tourism to become an important industry for New Zealand’s economy, with many entrepreneurs, investors and local communities benefiting from the development of the industry.

There are numerous existing tourism businesses in the Southland region, ranging from smaller owner operators to larger publicly listed companies. The businesses range from attractions and tours to accommodation and other support services. The Invercargill Licensing Trust is a major provider of hospitality services within Invercargill.

The diversifying market mix means there are opportunities to base tourism activities around Southland's unique selling points, developing new attractions, creating new events or expanding upon the existing base of support services. Some examples of activities which already take place in a variety of locations within Southland are guided walks, bird watching, kayaking, scenic flights, boat cruises, cycling, fishing, hunting, climbing, diving and golf. There is increasing demand for both outdoor and in particular all weather attractions.

The Southland region boasts two Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs): Destination Fiordland based in Te Anau and Venture Southland based in Invercargill actively promoting and marketing the region.