Fund allowing tourists to give back generates $75,000 in first year

by Lauren Pattemore - Apr 04, 2024

A regenerative tourism fund has raised $75,000 in one year and now environmental charities are invited to apply for grants so the money can be given back to locals.

The Love Wānaka and Love Queenstown community funds, launched by Destination Queenstown and Lake Wānaka Tourism, are set to divvy up donations of between $5,000 and $10,000 in what will be their first funding round. 

The application window opens today (Thursday, April 4) and runs until Thursday, May 16, and is aimed at supporting the work of local charities with an environmental focus. 

These funds were the first initiatives to come to life from the region’s Destination Management Plan, Travel to a Thriving Future.

They provide visitors to the Queenstown Lakes opportunities to give back to their holiday destinations.

Community fund coordinator Ash Bickley says she is proud of the efforts to date and excited at the capacity these initiatives have to grow and contribute to the region over time.

“In just one year we’ve formed a number of key partnerships and have had some great support from the tourism industry, with businesses big and small contributing both financially and in-kind."

Visitors across Queenstown and Wānaka, as well as tourism operators and their staff, are also invited to volunteer their time, with associated websites operating as online hubs to advertise local volunteer opportunities and events, as well as provide information on sustainable and low-impact travel.

Love Queenstown and Love Wānaka posters and banners with scannable barcodes can be seen around the airport and hanging up in co-operating businesses.

One of the events to come out of this new initiative was a series of "Love Queenstown" planting days, which were held in partnership with the Whakatipu Reforestation Trust and Mana Tāhuna.

More than 250 volunteers from across the visitor industry gave their time to plant 4,000-plus native seedlings in six months.

Destination Queenstown chief executive Mat Woods says the intention of the fund is to create opportunities for the visitor industry to support a "regenerative approach" and accelerate the efforts of local environmental groups. 

“This is a project for our community and for our place," Mr Woods says.

Wakatipu Community Foundation chief executive Jennifer Belmont calls the scheme a "ground-breaking collaboration", and a first for the New Zealand tourism industry. 

She reckons there's the potential to replicate the Love Queenstown and Love Wānaka funds across the country.

Main image: Key players at the Love Queenstown/Love Wānaka launch one year ago. From left to right: Jennifer Belmont (Wakatipu Community Foundation), Ash Bickley (Fund co-ordinator), Tim Barke (Lake Wanaka Tourism), Matt Woods (Destination Queenstown). 


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