Tassie free-for-all threatens tourism

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The growing backlash against proposals to stop Tasmanian councils from operating free and cut-price campsites appears to have the authorities running scared.

With grey nomads leading the chorus of criticism and talking ‘boycott’, the Tassie government has issued a statement saying it wants the budget camping options maintained.

The Deputy Premier Bryan Green said a review of council-managed camping services would definitely not mean the end of low-cost services and would not force people into caravan parks.

He was speaking as public submissions on the review – which was instigated at the urging of Tasmania’s Economic Regulator in reaction to caravan park complaints of unfair competition – closed.

“There seems to be a misunderstanding that there will be no low-cost options following the review,” Mr Green said. “The Government is not supportive of a process that will jeopardise low-cost camping services for people travelling in self-contained vehicles.”

There has been widespread anger in the grey nomad community that an ‘effective’ accommodation cost hike, coupled with the significant expense of getting the rig across the Bass Strait, would make the Apple Isle unaffordable.

“The Government is working with local councils to achieve the lowest possible prices,” said Mr Green. “The feedback from councils is that they are keen to keep prices as low as possible … from around $5 per night.”

However, he said the review would ensure that local government-owned services would charge appropriate prices to recovers costs.

“Currently, toilet, water and other facilities are being provided at the expense of ratepayers and this is not fair on taxpayers or local businesses,” he said. “This review will make sure that where those services are in competition with a private caravan park that they compete on a level playing field.”

Hmmm! The government does say however that council services are basic, which means the cost of these services will be lower.

“I am committed to helping local councils strike the right balance between attracting visitors and supporting local investment in private tourist facilities,” Mr Green said.

For his part, the Minister for Tourism Scott Bacon reiterated that recreational vehicles users and caravanners were important to Tasmania’s tourist industry.

‘I don’t want to see people in Tasmania, across Australia and from overseas missing out on experiencing the many different travelling experiences our state has to offer because of misinformation about the range of options still available,” her said. “Tasmania is very competitively priced in comparison to the mainland and the Government is committed to ensuring we retain our competitive advantage.”

The public consultation phase of the review has been completed and the Government will now consider its recommendations.

Watch this space!

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