Inaugural meeting of Milford Opportunities Group held

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The Milford Opportunities Governance Group began its journey today when it met for the first time in Invercargill.

Created as part of the Southland Regional Development Strategy action plan, the governance group’s purpose is to provide strategic direction and leadership around the opportunities for Milford. This includes managing its growing tourist numbers, maintaining a quality experience for visitors, upholding conservation values and adding value to Southland and New Zealand Inc.

The group is made up of representatives from Southland District Council, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise, Queenstown Lakes District Council, Department of Conservation, Ngai Tahu, Distinction Hotels, Real Journeys and the New Zealand Transport Agency. It is led by independent chair Dr Keith Turner.

However, it is more than just about Milford Sound, Dr Turner said.

“Milford is an icon of New Zealand tourism, and indeed international tourism. It has high value to those who come to see it and we have a duty to protect it.

“But the Milford road and indeed the whole corridor is part of that journey,” he said.

Those at the meeting believed this opportunity to work together for the future of the Fiordland area and Southland was exciting and far-sighted. It was important whatever the group came up with was visionary.

It is a partnership between local and central government and stakeholders. It is not only important to Southland and Queenstown, but also to New Zealand.

“There was strong agreement today that the role of the governance group is driving creative opportunities around Milford and grappling with rapid growth of visitor numbers,” Dr Turner said.

The group confirmed its project brief and will be advertising for a project manager as soon as possible, with its next meeting early next year.

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