IndustryNews In Brief

Will caravans run over hotel industry in race to win over “drivers market”?

While caravan sales in Australia are going "through the roof’’ recreational vehicles and camping are unlikely to threaten the recovery of the hotel industry post-COVID, according to the boss of Australia’s largest caravan club.

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.

Grantlee Kieza

Grantlee Kieza OAM has won three Queensland Media Awards, two Australian Sports Commission Awards and has been a finalist for the Walkley and News Awards and for the Harry Gordon Award for Australian sports journalist of the year. In 2019 he received the Medal of the Order of Australia for his writing. You can find more of his writing in our upcoming Accom News print magazine!

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One Comment

  1. Hello
    I agree with cindy us being a Brisbane Airport motel our numbers have dropped to nearly zero and the landlord is demanding his full rent.
    Its good the job keeper got extended to march 2021 the fed govt identified this needed to be done but where is the extension of the National mandatory code of conduct re commercial landlords and tenants that ends 30 sept 2020 this must be addressed to be in balance otherwise many motels especially brisbane airport based will be closing for good come the end of 2020/21.

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