Overseas travel is off … and camping is booming!

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grey nomads find solitude
Kids, what kids? Two grey nomads in NSW’s Mamanga campground manage to find solitude. PIC: Boris Hiavica / NSW Government

Even the most optimistic of crystal ball gazers would accept that it is hard to see international borders opening to anything other than a handful of counties in the foreseeable future.

Of course, that means that more Australians will be choosing to explore their own backyard rather than heading overseas on holiday, and it also means there will be a noticeable absence of foreign visitors to these shores.

When you throw in the fact that many people have discovered they no longer have to go into the office and can actually earn a crust on the road if they have a laptop and a well-appointed RV, then it becomes clear that a Covid-triggered revolution could be coming to van parks and camping areas.

While grey nomads have become used to sharing ‘their space’ with the odd European vanpacker, they might now have to learn to do the same with increasing numbers of Aussie families and younger ‘digital nomads’.

Certainly, the tourism authorities are hoping so.

Australians made about 11 million trips overseas and spent $65 billion overseas last year before the pandemic.  It is hoped much of this ‘holiday money’ will now be spent on domestic tourism to help stimulate the economy. Tourism Australia recently launched its ‘Holiday Here This Year’ marketing campaign, urging Aussies to take a domestic holiday to support the many communities and operators that rely on tourism.

By all accounts, Australians are heeding the call.

Caravan parks across Australia reached average occupancy levels as high as 72% in cabins and 64% in powered sites for the week commencing September 28, 2020. The Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA) said the impressive figures revealed the pent-up demand among Aussies who are keen to get out and about.

“Cabin occupancy increased on the same period last year with early indications suggesting that a raft of ‘first timers’ are now seeing the many benefits of a camping holiday,” the CIAA said in a statement. “Cabin accommodation and motorhome hire are easy entry points for first timers and those wishing to take a road trip and explore this vast and wonderful country.”

So, have veteran grey nomads noticed a ‘changing of the guard’ in campsite companions and, if so, how are they coping?

“I’ve seen a few more people sitting next to their vans with a laptop working away and I say ‘good on them’,” said long-term traveller, Cynthia Kay. “And, as for more kids being about, I think that’s great too … we should all just remember just how lucky we are to be enjoying the lifestyle we are!”

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3 Responses to Overseas travel is off … and camping is booming!

  1. Hopefully, the families will stay in parks with jumping castles and water parks and the caravan park owners will stop lobbying councils to close free camping areas.

  2. Just arrived at the Mt Buffalo caravan park. It is about 1/4 full. The receptionist said the bookings are booming. The park will be nearly full after the Melbourne ring of steel is removed. She said regional victorian travelers only make up a small part of their usual clients. She was so pleased to fill the park. A lot of workers are gardening and getting everything ready. It is a beautiful place to camp and we will be back.

  3. I recall traveling and camping as a young adult, way before grey nomads became a fad. It’s great that the great Australian road trip is being reclaimed by younger, more fun generations. It has been hijacked by cashed up retirees for far too long!

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