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Families keep 310,575 caravans on freedom road

June 17, 2005

More than 60 per cent of the 604,831 caravan trips made by Australians each year include between one and two children.

Analysis, which includes studies by Caravan Industry Australia (now Caravan, RV and Accommodation Industry of Australia), indicates that this rises to 70 per cent in caravan families with up to three children.

There are now 445,744 caravans in Australia and of those 310,575 are used and owned by families, studies show. Families are by far the biggest group of caravanners, followed by Tourers, Comfort Travellers and Retirees. A staggering 87.5 per cent of Australians have stayed in a caravan park.

The production of caravans and Recreational Vehicles has almost trebled since the 1990’s. In 2003 the production of caravans rose 14 per cent on 2002. The growth is steady and 2004 projections put caravans built at 16,500, tent trailers and park cabins at 1500, plus 1200 new motorhomes. Industry forecasts that this puts 70,000 new beds into tourism. The caravan and associated industries are worth more than $2 billion annually.

InteriorThe CRVA says the caravan, camping and motorhome industry is the fastest growing tourism sector. Of the total caravans in a country which now has a total population of 20,008,700, an impressive 350,405 are actually used. Victoria leads in caravans on the move with 97,103, just ahead of NSW 96,165; both states are well ahead of Queensland, 67,202 in keeping those caravans rolling.

Throughout Australia most caravan owners take trips at weekends. Holidays for a weekend or a week or so make up 50 per cent of all caravan trips. Throughout Australia the move to take a holiday and where to go are decisions made in the majority of cases by a male, but women take the lead, on balance, when it comes to deciding where to stay.

NSW 183,675 leads Australia in the total number of caravan trips taken each year, followed by Victoria with 177,696 and Queensland 135,747, WA, 83,652 and SA, 64,997. With the addition of the remainder of the States and Territories 604,831 caravan trips are made by Australians each year.

The main reason families go caravanning or camping is to spend quality time together. This is followed by a need to be in the outdoors. Price comes in third as a motivation to go caravanning or camping. The CRVA says that except in Western Australia, a slight majority of people use a car in preference to a Ute or 4WD to tow their caravan. But across Australia there is also growing interest in owing a 4WD Recreational Vehicle and vehicle makers and the caravan and camping industry have responded.

The recent Victorian Caravan and Camping Show at Caulfield Racecourse provided a special exhibition of 4WD’s and catered to the increasing numbers of people keen to explore off-road destinations,' Show Organiser Peter Wright said.

He said that recent research confirms that a massive 70 per cent of people towing a caravan, camper or camper trailer, or setting off on a camping holiday in Australia, do so in a 4WD vehicle. Recent and projected fuel price rises may deflect some of the interest in the heavy 4WD’s, but efficient diesels are particularly popular for towing and exploring remote or challenging destinations.

CRVA says that in every state almost half the caravanners cover between 100 and 250km per trip. Only 10 per cent of trips are over 250km. Victorians and Western Australians are the exception to the rule and cover most distance when towing on a caravan holiday.

Analysis by the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia of a 'hard core' group of its members in September 2004 shows that fuel is not a stopper for those sampled in their decision to travel long distances in heavy vehicles. Australians Love the OutdoorsThis analysis is a response from a focus group that, in marketing terms, is described as 'The Builders'. They are the initial movement. Analyst, Roy Morgan, says that at this stage Seniors of 60 plus is the biggest force in Australian domestic travel. But the rush to get on the road is going into higher gear. By 2011 the major group out there will be the real 'Baby Boomers'.

The potential transfer of wealth and disposable income to the 55 plus age group is massive. On current numbers those aged 24 and under will have shrunk from four in 10 Australians to 2.3 in 10 by 2030. Research by analyst Roy Morgan shows that more than 70 per cent of new caravans and motorhomes are bought by people in the 55 plus age group. But camper trailers and camping are more popular among families and younger people.

It may be that as fuel prices bite lighter camper trailers and caravans will enjoy increased popularity across the age demographics. It is certainly reasonable to suggest that lighter camper trailers, caravans and more fuel efficient tow vehicles will be a growth area for Recreational Vehicle makers.

There are also known benefits for the rural economy. More than 50 per cent of all domestic tourism consumption occurs outside the CBD’s according to a Federal Government Green Paper – Long Term Tourism Strategy – which looked at the opportunities in 2003. This is exciting news for the economy when seen against the Green Paper’s view that domestic tourism makes up more than 76 per cent of visitor nights and expenditure in Australia.

Editor’s note:

GoSeeAustralia acknowledges with thanks the assistance given in compiling this feature from key sources which include –

CRVA (formerly CIA)
RVMAA Research
Australian Federal Government Bureau of Tourism Research
Federal Government (Tourism Medium-Long Term Tourism Strategy Green Paper 2003)
Roy Morgan Research
Australian Retirement Homes Year Book 2003
Park chains - Big4 Holiday Parks, Family Parks and Top Tourist Parks

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