Queenstown and Wānaka join forces to establish a fund for the greater good of the environment
The Queenstown Lakes region is taking action to what is shaping up to be the greatest challenge and opportunity of our time and is now inviting visitors and businesses to support the district’s ambitious goal of a regenerative, carbon zero future.
Together, Destination Queenstown and Lake Wānaka Tourism have established community funding platforms, Love Queenstown and Love Wānaka, that officially launch 4 April 2023. The aim is to drive a unique solution to the challenges, and opportunities, high-volume visitation poses for the region.
The two platforms will focus on raising funds to support localised climate, conservation, and biodiversity initiatives, accelerating the region’s shift to a regenerative carbon zero future and enabling visitors to positively impact Queenstown and Wānaka through their activities and experiences.
The initiative is the first project to come to life from ‘Travel to a Thriving Future’, the district’s regenerative tourism strategy, which was endorsed by the Queenstown Lakes District Council in February this year.
Destination Queenstown Chief Executive Mat Woods said getting the funding platforms up and running was a positive and impactful first step.
“We know there are many initiatives already under way in the district that would benefit from this fund, and we know that there are many passionate people wanting to act, but just don’t know where to begin. These platforms have been set up to connect our visitors and businesses to projects that are making a difference.”
District-wide, participating businesses will have both physical and digital points where donations can be made.
“While we don’t have all the answers, we believe that the answers are out there, and we are committed to being a place that is understanding of the level of urgency and that is willing to experiment and learn. No matter how big or small, donations will help support existing projects, as well as new ideas and new technologies,” said Mat Woods.
Lake Wānaka Tourism Chief Executive Tim Barke agrees. “This place is home to some incredible organisations and individuals working in decarbonisation who are creating change on the ground, but they need the resource to scale up, to make more impact. One project or one organisation can’t do it alone, so this funding will go towards supporting an entire ecosystem that works together for the greater good of this place and the planet. Collective action is how we change systems, and together, we are powerful.”
Visitors through Queenstown Airport will be made aware of the project as soon as they arrive, or leave, with installations detailing the values of the region, the background of these initiatives, and how they can get involved.
“What matters is how we translate the concept and the idea into action. Everyone remembers the beginning and the end of the journey, and we want to make sure that’s done really well, and we create the opportunity to create value for the fund, and that people feel a real desire and ambition to give back,” said Queenstown Airport CEO Glen Sowry.
All funds raised by Love Wānaka and Love Queenstown will be spent exclusively within their region of origin, with a portion invested into an endowment fund, to ensure long-term, substantial funding opportunities into the future. The platforms are being delivered in partnership with the Wakatipu Community Foundation (CC55258). Wakatipu Community Foundation CEO Jennifer Belmont said the foundation was thrilled to be the charitable arm of the regenerative tourism fund. “It fits precisely within what our mission is, in growing local philanthropy. Love Wānaka and Love Queenstown are an amazing legacy that will continue in perpetuity.”
Nestled in the Southern Alps, tourism is the primary industry for both lake and alpine resorts. Early feedback from businesses is that they are keen to contribute to the Love Queenstown or Love Wānaka community funds, either by donating funds themselves or providing the means for visitors to contribute. Tourism business, Wildwire Owner Mark Morrison said the idea had been talked about before, but he was excited to have something tangible in place. “I believe that business can be our saviour. When we see our community and local environment deteriorating it’s on us to do something.”
The next step is for the entire destination to go beyond reducing environmental impacts and begin to restore, repair and regenerate the natural systems. The Love Queenstown or Love Wānaka platforms will also connect visitors to tangible projects and enable them to volunteer alongside local environmentalists on initiatives that make a difference.
Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Glyn Lewers said he was pleased to see the project up and running so quickly and hoped it would inspire others. “This is really great to see that businesses can give back, events can give back and even our visitors can give back. Those post-visitor conversations mean you have visitors going back to where they came from talking about this initiative and how great it can be.”
“The wairua (spirit) created by this landscape is what shapes the visitor experience and connects everyone who visits whether for a few hours or a lifetime. This is often referred to as the kaupapa of tiaki and as visitors to this place we all have a responsibility to take up the challenge of being good ancestors,” said Lake Wānaka Tourism CE Tim Barke.
The Love Queenstown and Love Wānaka Community Fund is the first action (Project 14) to come out of the region’s destination management plan ‘Travel to a Thriving Future’. The plan is the result of almost two years of community engagement that considered and sought feedback on all aspects of tourism.