Targeting tourists

Compass drawn to attractions of magnetic south

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 14:51 26/02/2014
Southland Times photo
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ

Invercargill City Council building assets and museum manager Paul Horner and Venture Southland enterprise projects co-ordinator Karyn Owen walk through sub-antarctic islands flora and fauna at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery.

Southland Times photo
 

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Invercargill is the gateway to the subantarctic islands and authorities are investigating ways of turning this "competitive advantage" into a product to sell to tourists.

A Venture Southland investigation is under way to establish how various existing subantarctic exhibits could be used to create a commissioned product to attract tourists to the Southland Museum and Art Gallery at Queens Park.

It has also been suggested the "product" could become the main attraction at the revamped museum and art gallery.

Venture Southland was approached by Invercargill City Council Parks, Department of Conservation and Southland Museum to help with the project and its directorate approved $11,000 from its Investigation and Assessment Fund to support the concept planning phase of the work.

A project steering group was set up at meeting of stakeholders last month.

Venture Southland enterprise projects co-ordinator Karyn Owen presented her report, which identified the need for more all-weather indoor commissionable tourism attractions in Invercargill.

An assessment of Southland's selling points showed the subantarctic islands offered a competitive advantage unique to Invercargill, she said.

Initially subantarctic islands exhibits such as birds, rabbits, Auckland Island pigs and other flora and fauna were supposed to be grouped together but ended up spread throughout the museum and park.

However, with technology, they could now be linked, Ms Owen said.

The exhibits were often the closest tourists got to the islands and also formed a key introduction to those who did travel on expeditions, she said.

Potential growth markets included families travelling with children and Chinese visitors. "In most other parts of the country people pay for these sorts of experiences," she said.

City council building assets and museum manager Paul Horner said the project could play a large part at the revamped museum.

"The permanent exhibitions will be renewed or revised. The idea is exhibitions will flow continually, following the story of Southland," he said.

Southland Museum and Art Gallery Trust chairman Darren Ludlow said a subantarctic islands feature would be one of the strongest points of difference from other museums in the country.

Ideas for a new exhibit might include captivating story-telling about the past or creating a wind tunnel to show just how strong winds could be on the islands, he said.

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