New Zealand

Whakatipu Reforestation Trust in Queenstown receives NZD $420,000 grant from Hilton Global Foundation

Hilton Global Foundation funding aims to support organisations building hospitality careers, strengthening resilience of local communities & preserving travel destinations

The Hilton Global Foundation, Hilton’s primary philanthropic arm has announced a NZD $420,000 grant for Whakatipu Reforestation Trust in Queenstown as part of its 2023 annual grant announcement, committing a record $3.3 million in funding towards 13 organisations around the globe making the world better for travel.

The grant is the first of its kind offered by Hilton in Aotearoa-New Zealand and is one of only four awarded across Asia Pacific. The grant was awarded in recognition of Travel with Purpose Week, Hilton’s annual week of service celebrating the positive impact of its more than 450,000 global team members.

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The funding will allow the Whakatipu Reforestation Trust, in collaboration with Mana Tāhuna’s restoration workforce, to plant up to 22,000 native trees and shrubs on Slope Hill Reserve, an 8Ha pocket of the Department of Conservation-managed 33Ha Reserve during spring of 2024.

Located next to the immensely popular Queenstown Trail, Slope Hill Reserve has degenerated because of a fire followed by years of animal grazing. The addition of native trees and shrubs will provide habitat and food for unique native birds, lizards, and invertebrates, stabilise the hillside, and sequester more than 8000T of carbon over 50 years.

Focused on increasing their positive impact through efforts that support Hilton’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Strategy, Travel With Purpose, the Hilton Global Foundation annual grants are provided to local organisations that have demonstrated a meaningful commitment to destination stewardship by improving travel destinations and creating a positive impact on the people and communities they serve.

As longstanding supporters of Whakatipu Reforestation Trust, Hilton Queenstown highlighted the Trust’s work to the Hilton Global Foundation, resulting in an invitation to apply to its annual grant program and focus on environmental sustainability. These grants seek to improve travel destinations and positively impact the environment—past recipients have included clean-up, conservation, and preservation activities.

Karen O’Donahoo, operations manager,Whakatipu Reforestation Trust, said: “This funding grant is a major win for conservation. It shows Hilton’s commitment to Queenstown to create a better place to travel and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come. Without the grant from Hilton, it would take over 11 years of volunteer planting days to undertake this project.”

Chris Ehmann, cluster general manager, New Zealand South Island, Hilton, said: “We are thrilled to announce a significant milestone in our commitment to regenerative tourism and the Queenstown community. This grant not only signifies our dedication to destination stewardship but also underscores our leadership in sustainable business practices across the Australasian region. Together, we look ahead with hope, knowing that this partnership will leave a lasting, positive impact on both the environment and the community we cherish.”

Through funding provided by the Hilton Global Foundation, this year’s global grantees are estimated to meaningfully impact more than 50,0000 community members, provide nutritious food to over 25,000 people, divert over 204,117 kilos of food waste from landfill, preserve over 150 acres of land and support over 20,000 learning and career growth opportunities. This positive impact supports Hilton’s Travel with Purpose strategy and efforts to create 5 million learning and career growth opportunities while meaningfully impacting 20 million community members by 2030.

L-R: David Butt (Department of Conservation), Emma Thompson (Department of Conservation), John Hollebon (Mana Tahuna), Cora Heister (Mana Tahuna), Mike Rewi (Mana Tahuna), Chris Ehmann (Hilton), Jo Smith (Whakatipu Reforestation Trust), Neill Simpson (Whakatipu Reforestation Trust), Barbara Simpson (Whakatipu Reforestation Trust), Karen O’Donahoo (Whakatipu Reforestation Trust)
Image credit: Dan Childs of 222 Photographic Studios

Paul Hutton, area vice president Asia Pacific and head of Australasia, Hilton, said: “The Hilton Global Foundation was created based on the belief that travel can be a powerful, positive force for good. This year, we’re proud to commit NZD $420,000 to the Whakatipu Reforestation Trust, which marks the first time we have been awarded a grant of this kind in Aotearoa-New Zealand.

“Globally, Hilton has provided USD $3 million in grants, our biggest contribution to date, towards grantees who are driving efforts that make communities better for those who live, work and travel. The 2023 Hilton Global Foundation grant recipients have shown the impact that people and organisations can have when they work together to be a powerful force for good.

“Understanding the importance of building a sustainable future, the Hilton Global Foundation is proud to support organizations like the Whakatipu Reforestation Trust which are doing great work in our communities and we look forward to seeing the positive impact they will continue to make.”

The Hilton Global Foundation was founded in 2019 on the belief that it can create a better world to travel by partnering with people and organizations that foster positive change. Grant funding provided by the Hilton Global Foundation will support various organizations that positively impact the environmental sustainability of travel destinations, support the career development of youth and other underrepresented groups, and fund projects that support the resilience of vulnerable communities around the world.

The Hilton Global Foundation has awarded grants to organisations worldwide in three main categories:

Career Development: Recipients include initiatives like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which supports youth by providing on-property mentoring opportunities for hands-on hospitality work experience. Other beneficiaries include programs in Mexico, the UK, Morocco, the UAE, China, and the US that focus on skill-building, job training, and employment opportunities for underrepresented groups, including those with disabilities and at-risk youth.

Community Resilience: Organizations like Second Servings of Houston in the US and Scholars of Sustenance Indonesia receive grants to address food insecurity by rescuing surplus food and distributing it to those in need.

Environmental Sustainability: Grants support initiatives like the BioSur Foundation in Costa Rica, the World Wildlife Fund’s biodiversity efforts, and the Whakatipu Reforestation Trust in New Zealand as above, all of which work to protect ecosystems and promote responsible environmental practices.

These grants align with Hilton’s commitment to social responsibility and sustainability across the globe.

In addition to the annual grants distributed by the Hilton Global Foundation, additional microgrants are being distributed to local organizations nominated by Hilton Team Members from Hilton’s nearly 7,300 properties. This funding will go towards organizing volunteer efforts in communities where Hilton operates. Microgrants distributed in Australasia include:

The announcement corresponds with Hilton’s Travel with Purpose Week, an annual week of service across Hilton’s global corporate, managed, and franchised locations. 

Learn more about the Hilton Global Foundation and this year’s grantees HERE

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