Caravanning industry, travellers, Aust road tourism reach watershed

June 05, 2013
Caravanning industry, travellers, Aust road tourism reach watershed

Stakeholders in the caravanning industry and road tourism now agree they share commonchallenges. For example:

Increased sales of Recreational Vehicles (RV's) will increase the pressure on accommodation androad touring resources at all levels in and out of caravan parks throughout Australia.

A net reduction in the number of RV sites means motor accommodation is at a watershed andultimately something has got to give.

The major common challenge is bureaucracy in Federal, State and Local Government regulation.

Consumers and industry will benefit from working together to find answers rather than attackingeach other.

Generally consumers now accept that caravan, holiday and tourist parks have to comply with oftennegative bylaws, regulations and ever increasing costs.

Different compliance requirements from State to State and one Shire/Council to the next impedesolving problems. Many of the rules and regulations were enshrined when motor accommodationwas an EH Holden towing a 14ft caravan with only a bed.

Shires/Councils encounter problems when they try to provide park/rest areas with ablution blocksand other facilities as various local, State and Federal laws and regulations create obstacles.

Chris Wilson of the RV Voice website says - We, the consumers and the Industry should be joiningforces to find the answer rather than attacking each other. CRVA and related RV Industry groupsstill seem to think that the cause of the problems are the RV consumers.

Legal strategies like 'competitive neutrality' and other campaigns aimed at shutting down low costno frills camping areas only create angst among RV consumers. The fight should be taken to themain cause of the problems which is the myriad of Federal, State and local rules and regulations, hesaid.

In a submission on Queensland Drive Tourism Chris Wilson said -

Pressure from caravan park owners to shut down alternative accommodation options is generallybased on some of the onerous RRs that they are required to meet.

This often allows the local shire/council to take the easy way out by simply shutting down thecaravan park alternative, he said

Stuart Lamont, CEO of the peak caravanning industry body Caravan Recreation Vehicle andAccommodation Industry of Australia (CRVA) says - The challenge is that we are over-regulated.

These regulations are designed to protect the consumers, environment, and local communities. I amnot sure of too many regulations which exist to protect industry.

New Jayco 5th wheeler slides out more space
New Jayco 5th wheeler slides out more space

An analysis of the burdens associated with regulation needs to be completed.

In the meantime increased competition (at least meeting the minimum requirements set out inlegislation and regulation) is a good thing a open market does two things puts pressure on pricingand puts pressure on quality and standards both of which benefit the consumer.

The sooner we stop looking short-term and come up with a sustainable model for future customersthe better, Stuart Lamont said.

In a submission on Queensland Drive Strategy Chris Wilson said - I think many of the problems arein fact caused by the travellers themselves but our experience over the years indicates that there arestill political, bureaucratic and commercial self interest obstacles blocking an enjoyable longer termstay in many towns around Australia.

Many Government authorities, be they Local, State or Federal, try to deal with the problemsassociated with the increasing number of people in mobile accommodation as if they are all onegroup.

The fact is that there is a basic structure to differentiate motor accommodation within the targetmarket and in my view it can be broken down into three groups.

(1) Mobile accommodation in which the occupants dont give a damn about where they stay, howlong they stay, noise pollution, littering or waste water pollution.

(2) Mobile accommodation which is NOT self contained where the occupants rely on externalproviders for toilet facilities, ablution blocks, rubbish bins and in most cases a source of 240vpower. Generally these people will have no fixed means of collecting and retaining waste water. Thepeople in these forms of mobile accommodation have chosen to be NOT self contained for tworeasons.

a. Size of vehicle they have chosen limits the onboard facilities.

b. The cost of a true self contained vehicle is not within their budget.

GSA camp at Aysons Reserve  during research for this story  26 4 13
GSA camp at Aysons Reserve during research for this story 26 4 13

(3) Mobile accommodation which is legitimately self contained and allows the occupants to rest or

stop for a specific period of time without having to rely on any external services. They will have a

fixed means of collecting and retaining waste water, the ability to store rubbish, and in many cases

solar systems to provide power. The people in these forms of mobile accommodation have chosen

to be self contained for a number of reasons:

a. Personal comfort generally a larger configuration.

b. Personal hygiene onboard toilet, bathroom and washing facilities.

c. Ability to park/rest responsibly in areas where there are no facilities provided.

If it is accepted that there are three groups of people in the mobile accommodation target marketthen it should be possible to come up with a solution for each group. I believe that the third group,self contained mobile accommodation (SCMA), represent at least 30 percent of the total targetmarket and are by far the easiest to accommodate, Chris Wilson said.

People in legitimate self contained motor accommodation do not require any facilities orinfrastructure other than a relatively flat piece of ground to park the vehicle.

A source of potable water, waste water dump point and a mini skip for rubbish would be helpfulbut not necessary. If Shires/Councils could accommodate 30 percent or more of the market in alow maintenance, minimal infrastructure site then it must relieve the pressure for sites toaccommodate the other two groups.

2010 Camping overflow reality check Strahan West Coast Tasmania
2010 Camping overflow reality check Strahan West Coast Tasmania

One of the problems that I believe many Shires/Councils encounter is that when they try to providepark/rest areas with ablution blocks and other facilities, various local, State and Federal laws andregulations create obstacles. It seems to me that provision of a flat piece of ground with no facilitieswould not throw up as many obstacles.

I dont want FREE because I expect to pay. Being in a true self contained vehicle I dont needanything other than somewhere to park/rest/camp overnight or longer so that I can explore andpatronise the particular town or region.

Infrastructure such as waste disposal points and access to potable water are obviously importantbut they can be managed and planned as part of the journey.

Other services such as potable water and power could be provided on a 'user pays' basis. Iunderstand that in some parts of Europe 'user pay' service sites are available for travellers to top upwith power and water if they do not have their own facilities.

In my view there are many opportunities for delivering accommodation options howeverbureaucratic rules and regulations seem to stifle many of these options. Different compliancerequirements from State to State and one Shire/Council to the next are the main impediment tosolving the problems.

Seven Mile Beach near Hobart Tasmania has a serious dump point
Seven Mile Beach near Hobart Tasmania has a serious dump point

Many of the rules and regulations were enshrined when motor accommodation was an EH Holden towing a 14ft caravan with only a bed. Pressure from Caravan Park owners to shut down alternative accommodation options is generally based on some of the onerous RRs that they are required to meet.

This often allows the local shire/council to take the easy way out by simply shutting down the Caravan Park alternative. As you have documented there are many stakeholders all with a different agenda but at the end of the day we all want similar outcomes.

(1) Governments at all levels want to encourage people to travel and explore this great country andleave some money in the various communities along the way.

(2) Motor accommodation industry participants want to be able to provide a quality product in acommercially competitive manner.

(3) People in motor accommodation simply want safe, clean and legal accommodation options withthe ability to choose the standard based on their own circumstances.

Some points to consider:

Accomodation providers be encouraged to offer a range of options. One of these options wouldbe a product to suit Self Contained vehicles ONLY. The requirements for this sort of option shouldbe less onerous which translates to a lower site fee.

Caravan Parks rarely offer unpowered sites, user pay ablution blocks and continue to promotefacilities such as camp kitchens, playgrounds and swimming pools. This sort of package may wellsuit a young family but I dont see a lot of older travellers leaping about on swings and slides andbouncing on air pillows.

As we know power and water are valuable resources and in this era of green responsibility we areall encouraged to reduce electricity consumption and conserve water. Accommodation facilities thatdont offer an unpowered option to people that have their own green friendly resources are notbeing green friendly.

Solar powers GSA caravan and office equipment
Solar powers GSA caravan and office equipment

Rightly or wrongly if I am paying for grid power I will use it and have no concern for my level ofusage. In my own vehicle we have to manage and conserve our energy usage because it is a finiteresource. That concept should be encouraged. Water is another resource that whilst it is regarded asfree will be abused by many people. User pay infrastructure should be encouraged so that peoplecan decide how much power they want to use and how long they want to stay under the shower.

Installation of hardware and infrastructure to offer user pay water and electricity could beencouraged by offering tax deductions or other incentives to the business operator. The businessoperator should be able to 'mark up' the price of electricity so that the cost of installation can berecouped. People will decide their own usage based on the price. Maybe the air conditioner will notbe left on all day whilst they out. Water consumption should be offered along similar lines, ChrisWilson said.

It seems to me that the problem is not a lack of potential sites to accommodate travellers theproblem is the myriad of different rules and regulations. Caravan Parks, Showgrounds, ratepayerfunded facilities, private property owners offering short term stays, local sporting clubs, schoolgrounds and Service club carparks all provide an opportunity to accommodate travellers undercertain conditions.

Huntly Rest Area has Council and service club support
Huntly Rest Area has Council and service club support

A consistent set of rules drafted to apply to modern self contained self sufficient motoraccommodation configurations will go a long way towards reducing the size of the problem.

Nofrills leave no trace sites should be able to operate under minimal infrastructure rules. Accomodationproviders could establish low cost products on an equal compliance basis. If a provider chooses notto offer a low cost no frills product then that is a commercial decision.

Regions and towns throughout Australia can benefit in many ways from the motor accommodationpopulation and the availability of low cost no frills accommodation options will go a long way toencourage them to stay and contribute, Chris Wilson said.

Our company policy is to recommend caravan parks for the security of travellers. Our staff members include long-term caravan park owners. GoSee free camps when and where appropriate. GoSee will not free camp to the detriment of a caravan park.

When travelling GoSee pays its way. Usually this is at the commercial rack rate.

Here is a run of related Information Articles from the free GoSee library:

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