New Zealand’s popular tourism region has announced it intends to be the world’s first carbon-neutral destination.
Queenstown Lakes, encompassing the broader Queenstown and Lake Wānaka region, has committed to decarbonising its significant tourism industry to become carbon-zero by 2030.
The ambitious carbon-neutral goal, which is part of a regenerative tourism strategy titled Travel to a thriving future, includes both flights into and out of the district, and transport within it, and stipulates the aim to remove carbon rather than offsetting it.
The strategy is a partnership between Destination Queenstown (DQ), Lake Wānaka Tourism (LWT), and the Queenstown Lakes District Council, with input from Kāi Tahu (Māori iwi or tribe) and the Department of Conservation (DoC).
Queenstown Lakes District Mayor, Glyn Lewers, said “I’m emboldened by the collective response we have had from the community, Council, our airport and businesses – both large and small. We know it won’t be easy, but everyone realises the need to urgently decarbonise. This is not only the right thing to do for our extraordinary environment and of course the planet, but also secures the future of tourism, our biggest industry. We see huge benefits in leading this on the global stage.”
The regenerative tourism plan involves environmental, social, cultural, and economic considerations, with Mayor Lewers pointing to the region’s geographical isolation and the example of Covid-19 showing how vulnerable the district was in its existing model as crucial reasons to accelerate change.
He added that the research and feedback had shown that many tourism businesses within the region are already adjusting their operations. “Change is inevitable, and they would rather be the leaders of that change”, he said.