IT’S the first injection into what could be a multi-million pound project to market Southampton to the world.

Councillors have approved £150,000 to be spent over the next three years rebranding the city.

The “destination management strategy” will start with a £30,000 report written by tourism industry experts.

Some city culture bosses believe it would kick start a multi-million pound visitor boom for Southampton.

But the investment has come in for criticism with claims that the cash will be soaked up in administration costs.

Conservative leader on Southampton City Council, Jeremy Moulton said he “suspected” the plans would result in “£50,000 a year of shuffling around bits of paper”.

He said: “You have got to get the basics right. Obviously we would like to encourage more tourists to the city particularly with the cruise ships.

“But our ancient monuments, the signs around God’s House Tower for example need completely redoing. People are not able to learn about the history of the city. And the High Street is filthy at the moment.”

Director of Culture Southampton James Gough defended the investment in the report and claimed it could have a huge impact on the city.

He said: “This is the very early stage in what could over ten years be a multimillion pound project that would have significant economic impact across the whole city. It’s a strategic approach that will look at how we communicate the message about Southampton.

“We’ll be working with ABP, the Business Improvement District, Southampton FC and the two universities. Attempts at tourism have been approached in the past but this is the first time everyone is working together.

“We want to get people talking about Southampton - that’s the sizzle but when they get here there’s got to be something to do and that’s the sausage.”

The report will be completed by next April when it will be presented to tourism bosses to decide what futher action to take.

The rest of the £150k has been set aside to pay for “new initiatives that might be identified”.

City culture chief councillor Satvir Kaur said she wants Southampton to be the major south coast destination - ahead of Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Bristol.

Figures from 2011-2013 showed that 6.6 million domestic visitors come to Southampton each year and spend £251m in the local economy.

Cllr Kaur said: “We’ve got much more to offer. We are investing in the city’s visitor economy because Southampton has a lot to offer to both local residents and tourists. This is about making Southampton a cultural destination so that people living here want to stay and people want to come and visit our brilliant city.

But Southampton marketing experts say the emphasis should be on “collaboration”.

Ed Gould from Carswell Gould said the strategy should be “less about leaflets and websites and more about movements and pride”.

He said: “We are a city that connects with the rest of the world well - physically. We have many of the ingredients of a top 10 Uk city but to claim our place we must also inhabit minds and hearts of people, nationally and internationally”

He added: “We are one of the fastest growing tech clusters. It’s a place full of innovation, new ideas and support for new tech businesses. We are creating new brilliant businesses all the time in and around the city.

“My personal view is Southampton is the city of connections.

He added: “Stop talking down a city that grafts every day. Take pride in what it is and speak up for it at every opportunity”.

And PR expert Lee Peck added: “I’m really optimistic about the future.

“One of the biggest challenges of the plan is to fully integrate WestQuay into the city as a whole. It’s a world class attraction. But it cannot be like a black hole and absorb all the visitors and all the spending.”

“Over the years I know a lot of money has been spent on trying to give Southampton one identity. I don’t think that’s possible. It’s much too diverse.

“For starters I think I’d hire a world class photographer to help spread the word. There are some fabulous slights in the city. Let’s tell the world.”