Caravan Parks across Australia reached average occupancy levels as high as 72% in cabins and 64% in powered sites during the school holidays.
This resulted in an estimated $170 million worth of economic benefit generated over the school holidays in regional communities throughout Australia.
To put this in context, during COVID restrictions the two weeks post Easter, normally a busy period, only saw $12.4 million in 2020. (Data Source: BDO, Newbook, RMS).
While this significant injection of visitor expenditure has helped many businesses across the country start to see some relief, this is still a far cry from business as usual for many others.
There are still many communities throughout the country that are struggling from the extended impacts of border restrictions and the disrupted visitor movement for long term travellers such as Grey Nomads.
The school holiday occupancy figures provide hope for what is to come for those regions still struggling.
September school holidays showed that there is pent up demand among Aussies who have spent months facing the challenges that COVID-19 has bought to our lives.
With the continued relaxation of borders around the country, we would expect to see increasing RV travel.
Consumer research conducted by Caravan Industry Association of Australia indicated that 79% of caravan and camping consumers are at least ‘fairly confident’ at travelling in the coming months.
Cabin occupancy increased on the same period last year (2019) with early indications suggesting that a raft of ‘first timers’ are now seeing the many benefits of a camping holiday.
This includes the array of choice offered by accommodation types for all budgets, from unpowered sites to cabin and glamping accommodation.
In South Australia, the state government recently handed out accommodation vouchers worth $100 per person.
I would expect to see some of this stimulus flow into caravan and cabin parks across the state but its hard to gauge what impact the plan might have on occupancy numbers.
What we do know is those that have taken up the government on its offer will have more cash to spend when they reach their destination, and this can only be a good thing for regional areas.
Not only are caravan parks naturally open spaces, they have been some of the very first to adopt COVID best practices regarding contactless check-in, cleaning and guest declaration tracking to keep guests safe.
Caravan Industry Association of Australia spokesperson Keelan Howard said cabin accommodation and motorhome hire are easy entry points for first timers and those wishing to take a road trip
“New campers are often interested in the romantic idea of vanlife on a motorhome road trip or the outdoor luxury afforded by a glamping experience,” Howard said.
This comes as Tourism Australia pivots its focus to domestic marketing and announces new ambassadors Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster-Blake, which is a fantastic initiative.
Hamish is certainly no stranger to a road trip and the benefits of a camping, which are well documented in successful Hamish and Andy ‘Caravan of Courage’ TV show.
Hamish and Zoe also represent the largest demographic of campers, the family market.
“While there is still a long road ahead to recovery, it is great to see those Aussies who are in a position to travel hitting the road and exploring their own backyard” said Mr Howard.
It is no wonder that caravanning and camping became the most popular holiday choice in 2019 and remains a favourite as we begin to rebound out of the pandemic.
Caravan Parks play a very important role in facilitating visitor movement throughout regions and offering the hospitality and experience that makes travelling throughout our beautiful country so unique.
If you are looking for a way to support local business to reconnect with family, friends and nature after a challenging year then it’s probably time to plan and book your next caravan and camping adventure.