Tasmanian camping costs

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Free cmaping in Tasmania issue
Is Tassie's free and cut-price camping on the way out?

While the impact of the Tasmanian government’s recent report on free and cut-price camping is yet to be seen on the ground … it is clear fees will be going up.

The Statewide Directions Paper ruled that local councils could continue to provide affordable overnight camping, but that they had an obligation to comply with National Competition Policy.  That means councils must now allow for costs such as sewage, maintenance, rubbish collection, signage, power and labour when setting camping fees. In other words, council-run ‘freebies’ and ‘dirt cheap’ options will soon be no more.

The camping review – which was triggered by complaints from four caravan parks to the Tasmanian Economic Regulator – said competitive neutrality principles should be applied. It urged councils to adopt a ‘full cost attribution model’ in determining the fee for providing a camping service.

“An efficient privately-owned business often cannot compete effectively with an inefficient publicly-owned business that is heavily subsidised,” the report said.
Not surprisingly, the findings have not been universally welcomed.

“I believe RV travellers will now take a step back and look elsewhere to travel in this great land,” said grey nomad Mick Piper, who made a submission to the Tasmanian Government on the issue. “The tourism industry in Tassie will miss out.”

However, Minister for Local Government, Bryan Green, said the intention was not to close council-provided camping services.
“Councils have already indicated they want to keep prices as low as possible for low-service facilities,” he said. “In the vicinity of $5 to $15 a night – which means there will still be low-cost options available.”

In difficult economic times, councils have often sought to boost tourism by offering free or extremely low-cost camping options … but the report says they need to meet the needs of RV users without disadvantaging caravan parks.

One of the park owners who originally complained about unfair competition said it was about justice … not greed.

“I personally know three of the four caravan park owners who complained and none of us are greedy graspers,” said David McMillan from Wayatinah Lakeside Caravan Park. “Councils certainly have a place in providing stopover facilities where there is no commercial operation, but not at the expense of those who have invested their hard-earned dollars to provide the same or better nearby.”

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