We Aussies may have many fond memories at beachside caravan parks, but new research has revealed that they are on the downward slide as the numbers of occupants have dropped significantly in the past few years. Current stats show that since 2008, peak-season bookings have dropped 10 per cent while off-peak bookings have decreased by seven per cent.
Factors Contributing to the Decline
A representative from the Caravan Industry Association of WA said one contributing factor to the decrease in caravan park visitation is the cheaper airfares to South East Asia, and of course Bali. Another reason is that people are travelling for shorter periods than they used to. Families used to go on a four-week holiday away camping, whereas now it’s more common for families to only go for week-long domestic holiday, and a shorter overseas holiday.
Easter Holiday Basket Dwindling
The last major tourist period for caravan park operators was the Easter long weekend, and many holiday park operators were kept busy, but visitors did not arrive in the numbers they used to. One Broome caravan park operator said there used to be people lining up to get in, but that simply wasn’t the case this year.
It’s Tough for New Park Operators
Many seasoned caravan park operators feel for those new to the tourism industry. These new caravan park operators are trying to open new holiday parks in an increasingly tough environment. Along with the decreasing tourist numbers, operating costs for essential overheads such as water, power and rent have skyrocketed, and there are far more rules and regulations to be adhered to in order to run a park than what was previously. So, with decreasing visitors in peak season, along with rising costs have put a large downward pressure on margins.
The Way Forward
But there is hope still, and changes are being implemented to make life easier for park operators and others in the tourism industry. Last year, the Caravan and Camping Action Plan were released, which will see a raft of changes being implemented through to 2018. The changes, which includes more funding, will help expand camping areas in national parks, streamline the approval process to make it easier for new parks to get established, and up skill caravan park managers and staff.
In the end, just like the rest of the economy and the overall market, the tourism industry will have ebbs and falls. Australia has done well to recover from the Global Financial Crisis, and our economy is remarkably strong compared to the rest of the world. We just have to make sure we make it easier for caravan parks to operate, and always find new ways to draw in both domestic and international tourists to experience all our country has to offer for campers and caravanners.