Strategy aims to promote brown trout for tourism

A strategy to promote Gore as the brown trout capital of the world is aimed at attracting more tourists.

Part of a Great South funded study, the five-year strategy pinpoints the need for brand exposure, infrastructure development, community investment and sustainable fishing.

Recommendations include constructing a viewing platform on the Mataura River, ramping up marketing, reviewing the cost of fishing licences and partnering with towns in Australia and the United States.

The strategy will be considered at the next Gore District Council meeting after it was endorsed at a community strategy committee meeting last month.

Council communications general manager Sonia Gerken said some of the work was already under way.

‘‘We are actually already working on an interpretation panel for the trout statue.’’

The strategy’s recommendations to develop a brand could cost up to $2000 and to build a standalone website about $10,000-$15,000, she said.

Mayor Tracy Hicks said developing the brand should be the priority and asked if the Hokonui Runanga had been consulted.

Community strategy manager Anne Pullar said Jo Brand, of the runanga, had been on the working group which oversaw the strategy development.

‘‘I think that the message through the process was that brown trout are not a native fish so that’s the first point for them [the runanga], and their big interest would be in the water quality side of this project.’’

However Cr Neville Phillips said the strategy did not directly mention co-operation with iwi, nor the Mataura liaison group.

‘‘They may have ideas that we probably wouldn’t . . . so I think that should be one of the key tasks.’’

Cr Nick Grant said he saw water quality as a key part of the strategy.

‘‘You Google ‘Gore water quality’ and the first thing that comes up says ‘E. coli’ and ‘unswimmable’.’’

This would not be very appealing for people overseas looking at Gore as a fishing destination, he said.

Ms Pullar said there was some urgency for Gore to solidify itself as the brown trout capital of the world.

‘‘We need to claim that positioning because if we don’t we’re going to lose it to someone else.’’

There were articles dating back to the 1970s which gave legitimacy to the claim, she said.

Council chief executive Stephen Parry said cost needed to be considered.

‘‘This is going to come up against other visitor-related investments that the council’s got to grapple with and I’m referring to the likes of Tussock Country. There’s a finite pool of resource.’’

Council staff would work to refine the report and present costs to councillors, he said.

However Cr Glenys Dickson said the strategy should not have to compete for funding.

‘‘I don’t see that this should become a choice . . . I see that it should be considered on its merit because it does bring in a lot of income into the town.’’