‘Free camping could kill off Tasmania’s caravan parks!’

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Tassie's free camps are a hit with many grey nomads
Tassie's free camps are a hit with many grey nomads ... but not so much with van park operators

While many grey nomads are unhappy about new regulations which they fear may see less free camping areas in Tasmania, the caravan industry says it is still the commercial parks that are really most under threat.

Industry figures show the number of caravan parks across Tasmania has fallen by almost 25% in less than a decade, from 100 down to 77 … and Caravanning Tasmania says many more owner-operators are struggling to survive.

“The caravan park sector is in fast decline, and there will probably be as few as 10 genuine caravan parks left in Tasmania in the next eight to 10 years if something doesn’t change,” the group’s president, Rowen Carter, told the ABC. “Free camping is part of the Australia psyche but what we’re talking about is councils subsidising people to have a holiday in the centre of town — they’re having an adverse effect on the caravan park visitor nights.”

Mr Carter said it simply wasn’t fair that caravan parks were paying commercial rates for their sites while the parks were losing customers and subsidising them to stay in council sites.

The recently released Tasmanian Government policy statement on free or low-cost camping, requires councils or public entities involved in providing campsites to compete on fair and equal terms with private businesses. The ABC reports that it also determined councils must limit their public, non-powered campsites to no more than 10% of all camping offerings within a 60-kilometre radius of a commercial caravan park.

However the policy statement also said that, if it can be proved it’s in the public interest to offer free or low-cost camping within those bounds, councils can be exempted from the rules … and that’s what upsets Caravanning Tasmania.

Mr Carter told the ABC that the public interest test was ‘far too wide-ranging’ and ‘flawed’.

“The State Government is not holding councils accountable … councils are running rampant, councils are the police, the judge and juror in this case,” he said. “The Government, as the body that should oversee this, are not enforcing the rules.”

In a written statement to the ABC, a Tasmanian Government spokesperson defended the new policy, saying it had been developed in collaboration with industry.

“Tasmania is open for business and there is no better place that offers free and low-cost camping, as well as a significant number of well managed commercial parks and camping facilities, which all have an important role to play in our visitor economy,” the spokesperson said.

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11 Responses to ‘Free camping could kill off Tasmania’s caravan parks!’

  1. It’s freedom of choice. I will patronise any town which is RV friendly while driving past those which are dictated to by the caravan park operators. The modern RV doesn’t need a caravan park but we do need the baker, butcher, IGA, fuel, news agency, restaurant, cafe and any other business which is contributing to their local community. Caravan parks are still useful for some people but the majority don’t want them so PLEASE do not dictate to us. Grey Nomads contribute much more to the towns and community than any caravan park operator ever will. They are in business to make money and trying to manipulate your market is not going to win you more business. It will punish the legitimate businesses within the towns. Technology catches up with all dinosaurs as time moves on. Instead of trying to cage the grey nomads you’d be far better off welcoming them into the town. A self contained RV has no adverse impact on a town. Public toilets and rubbish collection is a part of life in this great country so it is petty to accuse free campers of getting this at the caravan park operators expense. Every tourist to the town utilises the same facilities and truth be known, the grey nomad uses less electricity and water with a smaller environmental footprint than the caravan park dwellers. Time to move into the 21st Century Mr Caravan Park.

  2. I do not recall the hotels/motels complaining when caravan parks started putting in units and stealing their customers.
    If the caravan parks want customers they should meet the market. I do not feel sorry for them.

  3. Let the free market reign. We need less government intervention in all aspects. If a local council determines there is a positive business case for the local community investing in facilities for caravaners so be it. The free market will always produce far better results then a bunch of public servants.

    • Well said Malcolm! We do not need our hands held while crossing the road either.

    • No business can compete with free.
      If the Caravan Parks don’t have to pay rates and land tax then your argument stacks up but not as it sits at the moment.

      • We choose ‘free’ because the CP has nothing which we need/want. Trying to manipulate the market is not the answer. If their business model doesn’t pay dividends then sell up and go elsewhere or try something that works. I’d much rather pay a business in town for something I want rather than a CP which offers me nothing at an expensive price.

  4. This travelling community of people is growing at an incredible rate, it is much larger now than it has ever been and caravan parks have always been a holiday choice. For a lot of free campers today, this has become a lifestyle, and the value/cost of staying at caravan parks would negate buying food and petrol. We know that small towns value the free campers, they know that otherwise the doors to their business might close without them. Catering to one business (caravan parks) means a whole industry would be affected, including those that sell RV’s….don’t be stupid!

  5. When C.P change their price(lower) and facilities to suit those that don’t need all the amenities they will have customers.
    Until then sel sufficient travellers do not need them.
    C.P can not whinge for no customers, the ball has always been in their court and they.ve always had the option to tailor their parks to suit the changing customer.
    No sympathy for them.. . NONE

  6. My mission in life is not to provide income for selfish Caravan Park owners. In my experience many of them smile widely upon booking in and once the money changes hands so does their attitude. This is a free market economy.

  7. Maybe caravan parks need to start doing some market researxh. Find out why business is declining. Are you offering a service that the public wants. Do your fees reflect then needs of your customers and the products they wish to use or have available to them? Do not try and price gouge from the few. It is better to offer realistic prices and make your profit from the many in small amounts. Do you provide value for money or provide pricing based on usage? Some travellers only require basic need and do not want to fund to cater for ithers. Caravan parks are complaining about free camping, is there any complaints from motels when parks offer cheap cabin accomodation? Do local ammusement centres complain when parks offer a collection of amusements such as jumping oillws, games rooms with electronis games, pool tables, large playgrounds? Stop trying to use legislation to obtain business and start offering what the customer whants and you may find tha you wil get customers. We dont care if your rates are high, you chose to go into that kind of business!

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