Visitors play prosperity's tune

There were more than just brass bands playing a tune around Invercargill this weekend - the tills were ringing, and a Venture Southland boss is calling for an encore performance.

More than 500 band members and their families hit town on Wednesday for the New Zealand brass band championships and have been spending up large since then.

Invercargill motels were busy housing the visitors.

295 on Tay owner Geoff Shepherd said his motel was full over the weekend and it was great to have so many people staying.

The more events in Southland, the better it was for his motel, he said.

Monarch Motel manager Kerry Mariu said her motel had also been full, and it was great to have big events, such as the band championships, in the south.

Other motel owners were too busy dealing with customers yesterday to speak to The Southland Times.

Restaurants and bars were also busy while the brass bands were in town.

Speight's Ale House manager Sophie Graf said the restaurant and bar had been "packed".

Lone Star Cafe Barry Morrison said Thursday and Friday were the busiest nights but staff had expected more people over the weekend.

"There weren't as many people last night [Saturday] as we would have hoped," he said.

The Kiln maitre d' Ruby Turner said both Thursday and Sunday were "very busy" and weekend business remained steady.

Venture Southland tourism, events and community group manager Rex Capil said the national event was exactly the kind Invercargill needed to target.

National events brought in new people, new money and new opportunities and could entice people back again for a holiday, he said.

"Any new money in the city means there is an economic impact. We should be talking up these events that have the positive impact."

But in an extremely competitive market, Southland was battling to get national events to the south.

Venture Southland was working closely with the Invercargill Licensing Trust to look at how southern branches of organisations could be sponsored to encourage them to host national competitions.

It was important to show off the best of Southland during these events, to ensure that the positive word was spread, Capil said.

Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt said Southland had been getting "quite a big share" of major events and he credited Southland clubs with being proactive and promoting the region as a place in which to hold events.

He also credited Venture Southland with providing groups with administrative help to promote events.

The region boasted great facilities, such as Stadium Southland, Shadbolt said.

Stadium Southland manager Nigel Skelt said the stadium would continue to host an "enormous" number of events.

We're trying to balance a mix of sport, community events and other events such as entertainment."

Southland Mayor Gary Tong said the region was a great place in which to hold major events and the region's motels and accommodation establishments were excellent at catering for large groups.

He encouraged community groups and organisations to think outside the square when it came to promoting the region.

The Southland Times