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Southland industries get major boost

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/11/2016
Milford Sound is a top tourist attraction in Southland © Rex Milford Sound is a top tourist attraction in Southland

Tourism, aquaculture and primary industries in Southland are set to get a boost as part of the government's plan to diversify the local economy.

Population growth in the region is significantly slower than the rest of New Zealand and the local economy currently relies on a limited number of industries, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said announcing growth plans on Tuesday.

In an action plan the region has set out goals to grow the population by 10,000 over the next eight years and to strengthen local businesses.

Tourism and international education have been identified as ways to grow the region, underpinned by training or attracting skilled workers, improving water management, digital connectivity and transport infrastructure, Mr Joyce says .

The plan includes spending $950,000 to support the aquaculture industry.

"Southland's climate and ocean conditions lend themselves to sustainable and efficient production of high quality seafood," he said.

"There is a great opportunity here to build an international competitive industry that will create a range of skilled, non-seasonal jobs for the region."

A further $510,000 for tourism also includes leveraging off region's reputation for seafood.

That fund includes $80,000 for a feasibility study on Bluff Oyster World, an attraction based around the local delicacy.

Additionally $520,000 has been granted for improvements within the primary sector, which is the second largest contributor to the region's GDP.

Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell welcomed Maori involvement in the action plan.

"Local iwi are involved in a number of initiatives around the region and are significant investors," he said.

"There is an opportunity for the region in forming sustainable partnerships and making the most of the long-term commercial nous of Maori."

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