Dealers are reporting record sales around Australia and some holidays parks are claiming strong visitor numbers, but Graham Humphreys, the chairman of the Australian Caravan Club, said many caravan park site owners were facing desperate times in the face of border closures and the Victorian lockdown.
“Caravan sales are tremendous and the price of second-hand vans has increased dramatically,’’ Mr Humphreys said, “but while some parks are reporting good occupancies, overall the industry is struggling.
I know of a caravan park at Tweed Heads that is normally full with at least 100 vans at this time of year and at the moment they have just three vans on site. That’s less than 3 per cent occupancy.’
The Caravan Industry Association of Australia reported that with the easing of restrictions before the recent Victorian lockdown, every state and territory had experienced a “boom” in caravan sales, some by 30 per cent.
But Mr Humphreys said the picture was now much darker.
“Talking with and visiting some of our members around New South Wales we’ve never seen it so quiet for many of our park owners,’’ he said.
“At Lightning Ridge it’s the quietest year they’ve had in 20 or 30 years.
“I know six park operators who are financially hurting. Two were lucky that they had essential workers there from March to June but at one stage one of the parks had absolutely zero visitors in one month.
I have friends with a farm stay at Braidwood and they haven’t seen anyone there since March.
“I don’t think the boom in caravan sales will affect the hotel or resort industry because they are very different markets. People with caravans usually travel for long periods, often spending months on the road, while hotel and resort stays are usually short-term.’’
Jason Filippini, who runs three holidays parks on the Sunshine Coast, told the ABC recently that business had “been really good” and people were trying local caravanning and camping because of travel restrictions.
But Cindy Waters from the Wallace Motel and Caravan Park further up the highway in Maryborough, Queensland, told AccomNews that COVID had rocked both aspects of the accommodation business.
“`There has been a complete drop in everything here, motel rooms and caravan visits, we would normally get more caravan traffic than motels at this time of the year because we get all the caravans from Victoria and New South Wales coming across the border. But that’s not happening now and COVID has also stopped the motel visitors. Like everyone else in the industry we’re just waiting for the borders to re-open.’’ she said.