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Vintage BDO answers caravan park business case need in council camping debate

August 14, 2013
Vintage BDO answers caravan park business case need in council  camping debate

Rudy Pieck of BDO has produced a business case answer for caravan parks involved in debates with local councils about non-commercial camping.

South Australian Rudy appreciates good wine and the multiplier based formula he presented on behalf of CRVA CEOStuart Lamont reflects an elegant wine. Complex, but easy to drink. For caravan parks this is a business case which can be calculated in seconds. It will fit any caravan park. The result presents the dollar value to the local government area of the park in a direct dollar value comparison between commercial and non-commercial campers.

Rudy stepped up to the rostrum plate at the VicParks annual conference at the Pullman in Queens Rd, Melbourne when CRVA CEO Lamont was called to must do business.

The venue in the Victorian capital is a must do too. VicParks is growing fast and the previous, regular conference venue in Goldfields Creswick has unfortunately become too small.

Your correspondent is among those sorry to leave Creswick Novotel. The mattresses are outstanding, but the move to Melbourne justified itself right off the bat with VicParks President, Steve Bartlett, reporting a 20 percent increase on the previous record attendance at Creswick.

Caravan park owners are concerned that some local councils use ratepayers dollars to create 'rest areas' which allow overnight camping close to and in direct competition with ratepaying caravan, holiday and tourist parks.

This long-running issue is argued from the 'freedom' campers point of view with professional analysis of a sound sample base from, notably Australia's biggest motorhome club the CMCA.

This too produces a dollar value to specifically towns and links to the CMCA's RV Friendly (TM) scheme. The CMCA is also committed to a Leave No Trace scheme which fits full self-contained RV's.

It should be noted that CRVA and the CMCA, through Stuart Lamont and Richard Barwick, are in discussion on areas of mutual interest to their respective members.

CMCA's Richard Barwick is a high-level industry communicator and the CMCA has recently appointed a CEO. This allows Barwick to focus more on specific road travel issues.

The commercial-non-commercial camping discussion is critical to the future of Australia and New Zealand's RV manufacturing industry.

Multipliers formula. 084
Multipliers formula. 084

Major RV builders like market leader Jayco sell a dream of freedom. Caravan, holiday and tourist parks are part of that idealised lifestyle, they are not the whole story. For RV builders to continue growth responsible camping within the democratic right to camp anywhere it is legal to set-up for the night is at issue.

Caravan parks have strong business arguments for reasonable cost recovery. For example one leading Gippsland park chain owner at the VicPark's conference told GoSee that park power bills within his business are now past $30,000.

In our recurring travels around Australia and New Zealand GoSee was last at the SA Parks conference in South Australia. Apart from the education we were generously given in quality red wines we were told, sadly, of specific failure in major solar power systems when applied to a caravan park as a potential cost recovery option.

The power company rules changed and the expected Kw hour savings evaporated into even higher costs, delegates at the Victor Harbour conference were told.

Bluntly, caravan park owners say they cannot and should not have to compete with ratepayer funded free or low cost options which are sited in direct competition. This is compounded as the caravan parks are expected to meet high and expensive standards by layers of local, state and federal requirements.

Park income spend. 082
Park income spend. 082

GSA is still uncertain whether to laugh or cry at a comment by Dianne Smith in her presentation to VicParks that a CFA source told her that caravan parks are valued as potential 'refuges' in the event of extreme bushfire danger. Dianne Smith of the Victorian Tourism Industry Council gets that the cost of parks privately funding bushfire havens is problematic. Your corresponent is left bemused about the CFA.

Dianne Smith said about 200,000 are employed in the Victorian tourism sector. China is the BIG opportunity, she said. The challenge she said is to get them out of Melbourne and into a rural regional tourism experience.

Mark Griffith presented the Victorian Camping, Caravan and Holiday park Stategic Plan. He delivered significant Wow factor.

Fifty percent of bednight accommodation in Victoria is in caravan parks, he said.

Regional Tourism Boards hold the power, he said.

Tourism out of Melbourne is directionally centric, he said. He means, for example, that southeastern suburbians think Gippsland when holidays come to mind.

Robyn Moore loves words and used them to bring tears and laughter to the Vicparks delegates. She is the voice of Blinky Bill, among many others. Her Julia Gillard impression embodied the ex-PM.

Go to the middle of an upset, she said in a delivery which took aim at getting to yes and set one hell of a good example. Sorry is healing, she said. The tears on the cheeks of the audience when she told a Make a Wish Foundation tale of a brave dying boy who left his family with the knowledge that he valued them first as his parting gift needs no further comment. Some things go much further than words.

Dianne Smith  Chief Executive Vic. Industry Dev. Council. 065
Dianne Smith Chief Executive Vic. Industry Dev. Council. 065

VicParks Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth White touches on that intangible area in her report which says of the 10 months work which produced the VicParks Stategic Plan -

A number of key external factors affecting the industry were indentified. These range for the degree of over-regulation from multiple government agencies, and the cost of the compliance burden exercised over caravan parks, to the changed patterns of tourist preferences towards last-minute bookings and short holiday breaks.

We are a vital industry that is being held back from growth and greater prosperity by red tape constraints, and we are an industry that needs to invest more in data collection to map changes and predict consumer shifts, she said.

Elizabeth White VicParks CEO. 087
Elizabeth White VicParks CEO. 087
Analysis background. 081
Analysis background. 081
Commercial v Non-commercial park. 080
Commercial v Non-commercial park. 080
VicParks attendance up 20 p.c. 064
VicParks attendance up 20 p.c. 064
Spending patterns  of tourists. 085
Spending patterns of tourists. 085