Free Camping? There’s a Heavy Cost say Upset Operators

Call it the Airbnb or Uber moment for holiday parks. Disruption has finally arrived in the sector – but with a twist. Established operators are facing increased competition from lightly or unregulated competitors, that are often free and operated by the councils they pay rates to. As you can imagine, there is friction.

There’s probably already more than 10,000 free or low-cost sites around the country, according to the Caravan Industry Association of Australia, with more coming on stream every month as local councils target the tourist dollar with what is effectively a loss-leading strategy.

They want to attract the Grey Nomads or young families travelling Australia in the new breed of self-contained RVs, motorhomes and caravans, vehicles which allow their occupants to go off the grid for days at a time. No need to stop in town, they say. Unless there’s free or low-cost camping… See full story

Share and Enjoy:

One thought on “Free Camping? There’s a Heavy Cost say Upset Operators”

  1. Well Mr Kelly I see in your blurb to the left that you”typically develop a multi-tier approach” but from what I read in this article I see a very one eyed approach to RV Tourism.

    I have been travelling around this country for 17 years now, seeing and using what works in this RV Tourism game. When I started there were 330,000 registered RV in the country and this year it is anticipated it will exceed 700,000, that 112% growth in a few short years and in that time we have seem a total change in the style of vehicles and expectations of the consumer.

    I have to question the accuracy of some of your statements. You say there are probably over 10000 free and low cost camp sites around the country but Camp 10, the travellers bible claims 4950 and also has a sister publication Caravan Parks Australia Wide which claims 2240 parks. Now if the parks were to get their way and close down freedom camping who is going to accommodate these 700,000 registered RV, certainly not the parks as often you can’t get in as they are already booked out, particularly in peak seasons. The rhetoric and the facts just don’t match and have been proven wrong on many occasions.

    The claims made by Mr Corbitt from WA are made around the country to varying degrees but they fail to mention that Geraldton was largely a No Go zone for RV Tourism, such was its reputation. These claimants often make emotional claims but rarely back them up with some factional figures and seem reluctant to produce verifiable figures. This multi-tier approach that you advocate is about increasing the size of the pie so that ALL businesses get an increased slice. I am involved with a low cost RV Park in Bundaberg and can produce facts to show that caravan parks are not disadvantages by freedom camping, in fact we have had caravan park refer people to us as they were full and cannot accommodate more likewise we have referred people to the parks. Working together give the best results.

    You mention Elizabeth White of the Victorian Parks Association and it it intersting that it is under the paragraph title “Double Standards” . Ms White and her association in conjunction with the parks in Ballarat staged a concerted campaign to close down a 12 month trial RV Park in Ballarat and were successful and shortly after one of the parks closed down to become a retirement village. Is that Double Standards?

    You mention Kershaw Gardens and the court case there. Even members of the CIAA, the Caravan Industry Association of Australia privately shook their heads wonder what the Qld Association was trying to achieve. You fail to mention that the council is reopening that same freedom camping site now that the technicalities have been sorted out. The parks often claim that freedom camping cost the ratepayers money but this particular event cost the ratepayers of Rockhampton hundred of thousand of dollars and even the park sought costs against the council (ratepayers) That to my way of thinking is double standards, Their actions brought a huge public backlash against the parks and the untold damage to Rockhampton tourism is unknown.

    Finally you mention comments by Stuart Lamont of the CIAA and his claim that the fight has just begun. His much vaunted “Tool Kit” when it reached the public received a huge negative response from consumers, consumer organisations, RV Clubs and even councils and I might add many caravan parks. Claims made in that document in some instances were grossly inaccurate. Mr Lamont may claim that people who stay in parks spend more than freedom campers but you only have to listen to what local Mayors say to see a bigger picture. Caravan parks represent less than 1% of the small to medium business in Australia and protectionism of such a tiny sector is less than desirable. There remains one burning question, if the parks are is such dire straight and under threat from the consumer having the freedom to choose where and with whom they shall camp then why is we see major business such as superannuation funds, motoring clubs, large park chains etc, rushing headlong into increasing their portfolios. There is simply one answer – because it is profitable to do so.

Comments are closed.