A $170 million boost over school holidays for regional tourism, an indication of the important role campers can play in the country's recovery.
Caravan Parks across Australia reached average occupancy levels as high as 72% in cabins and 64% in powered sites for the week commencing 28 September 2020 as confidence starts to return among Aussies looking to spend time with loved ones over 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, coupled with aftermath of natural disaster earlier in the year. 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.
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.
"Cabin accommodation and motorhome hire are easy entry points for first timers and those wishing to take a road trip and explore this vast and wonderful country. 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" said Keelan Howard GM of Marketing & Communications, Caravan Industry Association of Australia.
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.
As with many businesses over the past year, COVID-19 coupled with natural disaster across the country has made operations very challenging. 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.
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.
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 time to plan and book your next caravan and camping adventure.