Visit Fiordland RTO Investment Plan

Including 12 Month Work Programme August 2021 - 2022

Visit Fiordland RTO was allocated $700,000 from the Government’s Tourism Support, Recovery and Re-Set Fund.  The approved work progamme aligns to the priorities of the Fund and builds on activity and project implementation achieved with support of the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme (STAPP) funding in 2020/21.  

The investment plan is split into three key areas with KPIs and milestones within each:

  • Destination Management and Planning  
  • Industry Capability and Product Development 
  • Domestic and International Marketing  


Visit Fiordland RTO Investment Plan and STAPP Work Programme 

Destination Management and Planning - $164,000 

This government funding continues to turbo charge implementation of our Southland Murihiku Destination Strategy which was recently reviewed after 18 months to ensure it was fit for purpose considering the COVID-19 pandemic.  The review showed that the plan was fit for purpose with nearly two thirds of projects already underway, significantly ahead of previously planned implementation timeframes.  An identified gap was the need to apply a ‘sustainability’ lens to the Strategy which will be undertaken this year.  This will ensure that our tourism sector can reimagine itself and evolve in a sustainable manner with projects like Milford Opportunities and Sustainable Catlins leading the way. 

There will be continued focus to ensure Fiordland is aligned in key projects and areas of opportunity which celebrate this special place and support further development and enhancement.  This includes the areas of cycling, walking, Dark Skies, agritourism and heritage.  This is an opportunity to develop key pillars and associated assets and collateral which can set us up in a good position for the years ahead.  Milford Opportunities is a significant project for the long term strategic future of the region and effort will be made to align all activity. 

We look forward to building on valued relationships and partnerships with local runanga, our Councils; neighbouring RTOs; local promotion groups and community as well as key stakeholders such as DOC and local tourism operators. 


Description and Milestones 

Southland Murihiku Sustainability Tourism Plan  

Apply a ‘sustainable’ lens to the Southland Murihiku Destination Strategy including understanding the carbon footprint of the tourism sector and how to support businesses on their ‘sustainability’ journey. Leverage the opportunities of the Milford Opportunities project. 


Grow and leverage the potential of cycling as a key pillar for Southland Murihiku and Fiordland by improving awareness of cycling assets and experiences through development of a regional digital portal; improved targeted marketing and support leveraging the potential of the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail Great Ride. 


Build on Southland Murihiku and Fiordland’s strong position of having almost half of all the Great Walks in our region by developing increased awareness of other walks through a regional online portal and supporting other key walking trail developments and promotion. 

Heritage and Culture 

Complete and implement key projects from the Regional Heritage Tourism Strategy including supporting regional museums to define and communicate their stories through trail and itinerary development and promotion as well as partnerships with local runanga and DOC. 

Dark Skies 

Leverage the potential of this key pillar including facilitating the development of a business case for a facility to house the Harry Williams telescope; ongoing support for new businesses and progressing the process to gain International Dark Skies accreditation for Fiordland National Park.   

45 SOUTHNZ Touring Route 

Continue to develop this Otago/Southland touring route which showcases the uniqueness of this region alongside the other 7 southern RTOs and other key stakeholders.  


Implement key identified projects such as development of content, assets and the online digital platform in order to leverage the potential of this pillar for the region. 

Industry Capability Building and Product Development - $105,000 

Given the disruption created by COVID-19 and increased focus on a more productive, sustainable and inclusive tourism sector, we have identified four areas of focus to foster industry capability building and support.  This will build on activity and relationships fostered during the COVID-19 recovery process and will be delivered alongside the Regional Business Partner programme.  This not only includes providing further digital upskilling opportunities for businesses, but also will build on last year’s progress to support individual promotion groups to grow their own capability to promote their own places and people at their own pace.  The more aligned we all are, the more compelling and stronger is our destination’s overall position.  

Now with two RTOs, we see the need to encourage tourism operators to interact with each other in order to broaden their individual offerings and explore new opportunities.  This will be facilitated with famil opportunities and the Southern Showcase event in September (2021 and 2022) and will be complemented by digital platforms and social media. 


Description and Milestones 

Digital Upskilling  

Facilitate delivery of digital upskilling opportunities for tourism businesses to ensure they are best represented on digital platforms including further activation of last year’s Google DMO project and delivery of workshops and training alongside the Regional Business Partner programme. 

Operator Engagement and Upskilling including the Southern Showcase Event 

Provide opportunities for tourism operators all over Southland Murihiku and Fiordland to experience each other’s products (to improve understanding and word of mouth promotion) through the provision of famil opportunities and travel interchanges as well as the delivery of the Southern Showcase in 2021 and 2022. 

Destination Brand 

Building on recent consumer insights investigation about the destination brand and associated positioning, further explore the current regional brand including the development of appropriate imagery; assets and collateral. 




Domestic and International Marketing - $431,000 

The majority of funding support is allocated to domestic and international marketing activity.  Creating awareness of our destination through promotion and marketing remains a key priority for us as we endeavour to attract customers for our tourism businesses.   

We will continue to build on campaign activity initiated last year which targeted specific domestic markets including partnerships with Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand, event organisers and neighbouring RTOs.  This year we will integrate new or ‘pivoted’ products and experiences developed through our destination management approach or as a result of COVID-19, into our marketing, especially those linked to cycling, walking, Dark Skies, agritourism, heritage and culture.  

When appropriate with the opening of international borders, we will activate our plans targeting prioritised visitor markets for long haul and travel trade marketing.   A key focus remains trans tasman visitation with premium and Asian markets an emerging focus.  

Overall, our focus is on building on the uniqueness of our people and place and exploring all opportunities to align our two RTOs for mutual benefit but acknowledging different situations for both RTOs.  The development and promotion of the new International Marketing Alliance (IMA) is an example of this and attending TRENZ.   

All of our marketing and campaigning aligns with our annual marketing plan which is also informed by recently completed consumer and market insights. 


Description and Milestones 

Event Promotion 

Support improved promotion of events to support and stimulate domestic visitation as well as alignment with the Regional Events Fund.  

Domestic Marketing and Campaigns 

Build on last year’s domestic campaigning and as detailed in this year’s marketing plan, deliver targeted campaign activity and activations to key domestic target markets. 

Long Haul and Trans-Tasman Marketing and Campaigns 

Depending upon opening of international borders and as identified in this year’s marketing and trade plans – deliver targeted campaign activity in line with consumer insights research and in partnership with Tourism New Zealand and neighbouring RTOs.  This includes promotion of new products to international markets, development of Asia as a key premium market and consideration of Milford Opportunities.  

Travel Trade and IMA Activity and Promotion 

Launch and promote the new International Marketing Alliance (IMA) which consists of the Visit Fiordland and Visit Southland RTOs at events such as TRENZ and offshore as opportunities arise.  Continue to partner with the travel trade sector and build awareness of the region including hosting of famils. 

Media and Famils 

Create awareness and understanding of offerings in Fiordland by hosting at least 5 targeted famils to the region and facilitating the development of at least 30 pieces of media promotion. 


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