‘Big relief:’ Tourist parks likely to experience boom
THE CARAVAN and camping sector can lead regional tourism down the road to recovery.
According to Tourism Research Australia, more than 500,000 travellers have indicated they'd take a camping trip within two months, with an average spend of $584 per trip.
This has the potential to kickstart the recovery for tourism and inject more than $292 million dollars directly into the hands of regional tourism operators who rely on caravanners and campers hitting the road to experience a wide variety of attractions.
Owner of Big Rig Tourist Park, Tim Eddy said an influx of travellers would be very welcome as they have been barely able to keep their doors open over the past couple of months.
"It would be a major boost and a big relief to us as at the moment we can only take essential travellers and workers," he said.
"We certainly welcome any business and any business we take in here, those people will then spend money in the town and that's very welcomed."
The intention to go caravan and camping is significantly higher than general travel intention, with only 12 per cent of the broader Australian population planning to book a holiday in the next three months, indicating that caravan and camping travellers are seven times more likely to take a holiday in the next three months than the rest of Australians.
Mr Eddy said the news has sparked hope for his business, having only had a handful of guests staying at the tourist park in the past weeks, most of whom have been workers at the new Roma Hospital.
"Whether it eventuates is yet to be seen but I'm looking on the positive side of it," he said.
"Given that for the most part, the Outback has been Covid free, people who are more susceptible which would be the grey nomads are more likely to want to travel here."
With restrictions beginning to ease in parts of the country, it is looking promising for many regional communities who rely on this market to support local jobs.
While Mr Eddy won't see any visitors from outside the 500km radius until July 10 at the earliest, he said it has been comforting to now have a road map in place.
"It was frustrating for small business owners not having that road map, and made it very hard with dealing with staff," he said.
"JobKeeper has been our saviour - it means we've been able to keep staff on.
"We expect to see some more travellers with the travel radius being extended, but don't think we will see a big boost for now as the population of the Outback isn't huge."
Most caravan and holiday parks have implemented COVID-19 safe guidelines already, catering for permanent residents, essential workers and stranded caravanners. This includes contact tracing, social distancing and increased hygiene regimes in common areas and amenities. Unlike other accommodation they also don't have shared lifts and lobbies or shared airconditioning facilities.
"Whenever we can reopen to travellers outside the region, we're ready for it," Mr Eddy said.
"We've all had to submit health management plans to ensure we're Covid safe, so that will be comforting for our incoming guests."