Getting RVs off the highway into the region

Families are the growing sector in the caravanning and camping industry

Families are the growing sector in the caravanning and camping industry

As we wait for action from our council on the Queensland Camping Options Toolkit, here’s an update from our neighbours…

There is a misconception out there that “grey nomads” bring little to communities, staying where they can for free and living off the smell of an oily rag. But RVs are big business, and communities, just like ours, are reaping the benefits.

A caravanning group recently visited Kenilworth showgrounds and recorded every single docket of expenditure in the town – including the $16 nightly fee, newspapers, coffees, pies or dinners out.

All up, the club had spent $8000. Money that is kept in town. Then times that by 42 – because 42 clubs visited last year with an average of 34-odd vans, and stayed an average four days.

A fact that has not escaped the Queensland government who released a toolkit for local governments to increase the provision of camping facilities, and attract more drive tourists to their regions last year.

Caravanning and camping is still booming and it is not only older Australians – research shows families are a growing sector.

In turn, Sunshine Coast Council recognised a real need for the widest possible range of accommodation options, and approved an interim policy for limited facilities camping.

It states that “limited facilities camping offers, and serves, a different tourism market to resorts, hotels, motels, holiday rentals and caravan parks”.

This market don’t want all the bells and whistles because all the bells and whistles are already on their vehicle.

This group of travellers are “self-contained campers” – which means “a person or persons who are camping within a structure or vehicle that holds fresh water, will collect and store all greywater and/or blackwater; and has on-board cooking and sleeping facilities”.

The limited facilities policy means the provision of: rubbish bins; water access; toilets and/or dump point.

It also stipulates short-term camping – not exceeding three nights within any consecutive seven-day period.

Directly north, the Fraser Coast Camping Options Strategy released this year recommends expanding bush camping sites, installing more dump points and Stop and Shop areas in Hervey Bay and Maryborough. Permits have already been drafted and council is working with business to implement.

The strategy was developed by the Fraser Coast Camping Stakeholders Group, the first region to respond to the toolkit and included representatives from the caravan industry, chambers of commerce and Council, and chaired by Geoff Redpath.

The Stop and Shop spaces include four in Maryborough to augment those in the McDowell Car Park in the Maryborough CBD, and up to eight in Hervey Bay.

The free sites would be designated parking areas in close proximity to the CBD which would allow for up to 20-hours parking for visitors who spend at least $10 in a local business.

Mr Redpath said, “Camping, caravanning and RVs are a significant industry worth $6.5 billion annually.

“This strategy recognises the value of the industry and the need to keep pace with evolving markets, competition and changing consumer dynamics.

Tourism is a key driver of the Fraser Coast economy, injecting $360 million through direct overnight expenditure, Fraser Coast Deputy Mayor and Tourism, Marketing and Communications Portfolio Councillor Stuart Taylor said.

“We’d like to increase that figure to about $759 million by 2020. Growth in the drive market, with a particular emphasis on camping, will help us reach that target.”

The recommendations also call on Council to review its planning laws to facilitate the establishment of new camping and caravan parks; offer incentives to attract investors to the region; review local laws to tackle illegal camping and install more dump points to encourage caravans and RVs off the highway into the region.

An RV Friendly Town™ is one that has met a set of guidelines to ensure they provide a certain amount of amenities, and a certain level of services for these travellers.

When RV tourists enter a town displaying the RVFT sign, they know they will be welcome, certain services will be provided for them that may not be available in other centres, and they will have access to a safe place to stay overnight, and possibly for a longer period.

An RV Friendly Destination™ is often a small town, club, oval, showground, scenic attraction or business that is not able to meet the full criteria of the CMCA RV Friendly Town™ program.

Currently in our region, Gympie and Goomeri are listed as RV Friendly Towns and the Royal Hotel at Tiaro is the closest RV Friendly destination.

%d bloggers like this: