The National Cabinet's 3 Step COVIDSafe framework is an important step in providing confidence to industry on when they can expect to be operational.
While Caravan Industry Association of Australia is pleased with the National Cabinet's positive messaging to a return to "normal" and the clear framework it provides to business and our travelling community, there must be further consideration to cabin style accommodation and RV's that meet the requirements and where this fits into the timeline on a state and territory level.
The industry is calling on the state Premiers and Chief Ministers to consider roofed accommodation such as cabins within caravan parks and RV's with on-board facilities that include toilet, shower, kitchen etc. to be included in their stage one of restrictions easing.
Caravan Parks are as safe an options as other accommodation providers, if not more so given their self-contained nature. Caravan Parks already have contact-less check-in and cabins are individual free-standing structures. There are no shared hallways, lifts etc. which are common in other accommodation types. This action will be crucial to get cashflow through businesses in regional Australia over the next few weeks to kickstart economic activity, with research indicating over 350,000 campers are keen to return to camping almost immediately when restrictions are lifted.
In April alone, a period that included Easter and ANZAC day, COVID-19 response measures have cost the caravan industry over $208 million and this figure is further inflated when you consider the loss of expenditure that would have been generated by regional tourism and thousands of small businesses.
Association CEO Stuart Lamont said "Caravan Parks have the ability to manage social distancing, adhere to increased hygiene, have strong contact tracing procedures in place, and yet they remain lumped in with unmanaged campgrounds who quite rightly should be opened in Step Two, but behind that is commercial operations which can demonstrate COVID-safe environments. Caravan Park operators have been encouragingly quick to respond to plan and implement ways to be proactive in reducing the risk of COVID-19 exposure to guests and staff."
"This is a failure of Government decision makers to recognise the diverse nature of what a modern Caravan Park is, and how it can manage the risk. We urge state Premiers and Chief Ministers to consider this in their response to easing restrictions within their jurisdictions."
Caravan Industry Association of Australia however in general welcomes today's announcements. It is an industry that believes it can play an important role in kickstarting the economy again, the tourism industry and regional Australia. We look forward to being part of the solution.