A STOUSH over caravan parking has again flared in Cairns, with affected businesses claiming they could be sent to the wall if travellers continue to park their motorhomes at free rest areas for an extended period of time.
Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort owner Geoff Olholm said parks were being put out of business with rest areas being used as a free block of land for travellers.
"The rest areas are designed to rest in, not to illegally park there day after day," he said.
"The rubbish bins are overflowing and the toilets are putrid.
"Caravan parks near these rest areas will go broke. As a caravan operator I can’t compete with free."
Fishery Falls Holiday Park owner Di Stepniewski told The Cairns Post she had seen a 70 per cent downturn at her park this season.
Ms Stepniewski now runs the park full-time because her partner is working at the mines to support their income.
"It’s very frustrating for commercial business owners like ourselves to see these rest areas when we have to comply with so many regulations," she said.
"There is no such thing as a free area – the ratepayers are paying for it.
"I don’t think people realise the cost of rubbish, water, public liability, keeping the roads and cleaning the amenities."
Ms Stepniewski is calling on Cairns Regional Council to police rest areas and limit the time caravanners can spend there.
"These areas are overused and being flaunted. They should not be utilised unless commercial parks are full."
Charging $22 a night for an unpowered site at Fishery Falls, Ms Stepniewski says the cost of staying at a caravan park is reasonable.
But, caravanning groups including the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia are frustrated at being forced to paying for space at caravan parks.
CMCA director Ken Kipping said the group would soon lobby the Cairns council to open up more rest areas in the region.
"Many people drive past Cairns – it is considered an unfriendly place (for caravanners)," he said.
"People who travel in self-contained vehicles who don’t need anything should be able to stay anywhere."
Mr Kipping said travellers contributed significantly to local businesses and should be made welcome by the council opening up more rest areas and potentially using the Cairns Showground for stopovers.
Mayor Bob Manning said there was no easy answer and agreed to talk to both groups.
People who camp illegally can be liable for a $200 on-the-spot fine from council officers.
For caravan park design and information call Brighthouse Strategic Consultants