Visit Southland RTO Investment Plan

Including 12 Month Work Programme August 2021 - 2022

Visit Southland RTO was allocated $1m 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 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  

Destination Management and Planning - $518,000 

STAPP 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. 

Last year we used funds to develop further planning documents including the Regional Food Strategy; Bluff Motupōhue Tourism Master Plan; Catlins Tourism Strategy Review; Regional Events Strategy amongst others.  It was important to understand very clearly the opportunities of various pillars and destination development and exactly the best way to allocate resources to achieve desired outcomes.  This year we will use STAPP funds to implement specific identified priority projects and activations from these plans.  The STAPP funding presents an opportunity to develop key pillars and associated assets and collateral which can set us up in a good position for the years ahead.   

We look forward to building on valued relationships and partnerships with our four Papatipu runanga, our four 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. 

Sustainable Catlins Partnership including Review of the Catlins Tourism Strategy 

Review the Catlins Tourism Strategy in partnership with Awarua Runanga; Clutha Development; Catlins Coast Inc; Southland District Council and wider Catlins community and support investigation of key projects such as walking trail development. 

Bluff Motupōhue Tourism Master Plan 

Alongside local Runanga; Invercargill City Council; DOC, the local community and other key stakeholders, support implementation of key identified projects in the Master Plan including interpretation of the Bluff to Invercargill Cycle Trail and investigation into the Pouwhenua on Bluff Motupōhue Hill. 

Southland Murihiku Regional Food Tourism Strategy 

Implement key projects from the Strategy alongside key stakeholders including the development of food trail itineraries, food story development and food events. 


Grow and leverage the potential of cycling as a key pillar for Southland Murihiku 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’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 e.g. in the Catlins, Western Southland. 

Invercargill CBD Development 

Support Waihopai Runanga to develop and share the cultural narrative with visitors through development of appropriate assets and materials. 

Regional Tourism Heritage Strategy 

Complete and implement key projects from this Strategy including supporting regional museums to define and communicate their stories through trail and itinerary development and promotion.  

Dark Skies 

Build on recent progress (and Dark Skies IDA accreditation of Rakiura) to leverage the potential of this key pillar including working alongside key partners to complete the Observation Rock Viewing Platform on Rakiura Stewart Island; ongoing support for new businesses and investigating new ways to experience and share the Dark Skies story. 

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 - $130,000 

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.  

With Visit Fiordland joining our whanau, 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. 

Sub Region Capability Building 

Partner with individual promotion groups in Southland Murihiku to build their capability and augment their investment in local promotional activity which in terms contributes to stronger destination development and promotion positioning. 

Marketing Toolkit Resource 

Update and distribute the existing Marketing Toolkit resource which aims to support individual businesses to identify; develop and implement their individual marketing plans and activity. 

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. 


Domestic and International Marketing - $352,000 

Creating awareness of our destination through promotion and marketing remains a key function for us as we endeavour to attract customers for our tourism businesses.  Our destination website redevelopment will be our key marketing tool and will showcase our regional pillars including special interest activities being developed through our destination management approach.   

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, neighbouring RTOs.  This year we will further explore partnerships with new products and experiences eg. The Langlands Hotel in Invercargill; Maruawai Precinct in Gore; Invercargill Central shopping precinct in Invercargill etc.  We will also integrate new products and experiences developed through our destination management approach into our marketing such as cycling, walking, Dark Skies, agritourism, sub regions such as Bluff, Catlins, Stewart Island etc. 

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 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 

Destination Website Redevelopment 

Redevelop and launch the new website to reinforce its role as the premium digital resource for marketing and promoting the destination.  This will include information about key pillars such as cycling, Dark Skies etc as well as an improved digital events calendar.  

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. 

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 target markets linked to the Southern Scenic Route; leveraging the jet service with Air NZ between Invercargill and Auckland and other Clutha/Catlins partnerships.  This will also align with 45 SOUTH NZ; events promotion and development of the new destination website.  

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 new products to international markets (The Langlands; Maruawai Precinct Gore) as well as development of Asia as a key premium market. 

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. 

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