Resistance is futile: Ziptrek Ecotours boss Trent Yeo

It’s hard to describe this moment in time.

For me, as a local tourism business owner, as a person with family responsibilities, and as an individual deeply affected by the separation from loved ones, all I know is our times are not simple or easy.

Navigating a view through the cloud of Covid is tough.

At Ziptrek Ecotours, I truly believe all of what we have been through so far has created a significantly more adaptable and stronger team.

A team that surprised me a little recently, in their endeavour to do something that was bold and new.

Last week we announced Wellbeing for Whakatipu, a month-long initiative in partnership with recently-formed Southern Wellbeing Trust, to invigorate our own community around the five ways to wellbeing created by the Mental Health Foundation.

Each week we will have an activation which will connect, be active, keep learning, take notice and give.

We are also donating $15 from every direct tour booking in October to Southern Wellbeing Trust.

But let’s step back a moment through some obscure recollection of events.

A fable ahead of its time: This year is the 50th anniversary of the children’s book The Lorax by Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss).

The book featured an entity characterised as preachy and bossy, but claimed he was the voice of the trees as they were systematically chopped down by the Once-ler.

Maybe one could never have known the accuracy of the analogous story from the persistent, and slightly bossy, truth of climate change inaction.

Legal governance mandate: On September 23 a Bill was introduced to parliament for discussion, to help define company director responsibilities that include consideration of matters such as te Tiriti, environmental impact, being a good employer, or interests of the wider community.

This will clarify and legitimise governance based on a purpose, rather than only financial gain, in Aotearoa.

World Tourism — a day: September 27 passed with hardly a mention of World Tourism Day.

This year’s theme was inclusivity.

Perhaps in the wake of a global decline in people movement it was hard to contemplate a highly-active celebration of travel, particularly in our region of Queenstown Lakes.

Mental Health — a week: Meanwhile, between September 27 and October 3 you probably read mentions of Mental Health Awareness Week in local and national news.

Maybe you heard of more initiatives locally than in previous years.

Our regional collective is called Te Hau Toka Southern Lakes Wellbeing Group, which formed in 2020 to build awareness of services that are available, connect people with the support they may need.

A company formerly known as: On October 1, one of our region’s largest and longest-standing organisations, formerly known as Wayfare (also formerly known as Real Journeys) undertook a massive rebrand to RealNZ, noted as an ambition to become a conservation
business, enabled by tourism and focused on Kiwi values.

A region — a reset: The region is currently in the process of defining and staging a future (for tourism and the community) which is regenerative (Your Word, MS, Sep 23).

The destination management plan being formed in collaboration with Lake Wānaka Tourism, Destination Queenstown, Queenstown’s council and the community is also simultaneously and independently being rolled out around the country, and is being funded by the central government ‘Support, Recovery and Reset’ plan.

From children’s bed-time stories planted in kids’ heads 50 years ago, to legislated changes in purpose for company directors in the future.

From days dedicated to tourism, to weeks focused on wellbeing.

From the transformation of companies refocusing on more local and more good, to the transition of regional destination marketing to management focused on outcomes for communities.

Ziptrek’s recent project with the Southern Wellbeing Trust supports the contributive work of a not-for-profit, to leverage business and community support to focus on the largest asset in our region, its people.

Collaboration is only really successful when participation happens at some sort of scale.

Some would say, unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.

Regeneration is the new sustainable and, let’s just say, resistance is futile.

Trent Yeo is Queenstown’s Ziptrek Ecotours executive director