Australia’s caravan and holiday parks are set to experience their busiest and perhaps most profitable summer season following the devastating bushfires last December 2019, according to the latest data from accountants BDO and The Caravan Industry Association of Australia.
The number of forward reservations during the months of peak travel in December and January has increased by 37% from last year’s figures as more Australians go to the coast or to regions to enjoy low-cost holidays that are suitable for families.
“If you believe all the forward indicators, this summer is shaping up to be as good as any we have seen,” said BDO Business Services Partner Angus Strachan.
“Forward bookings are not just fractionally ahead but by a decent amount, and this is up on last year’s post-COVID boom period.”
Strachan said many factors play a significant part in the rising demand.
This is a reference to its affordability, despite the increase in living costs and the wide array of services that are affordable for everyone beginning at just AU$40 for a night at unpowered camping sites to luxury cabins.
“Overseas travel is still expensive at the moment, with fuel prices driving up flight ticket costs, while airlines are still not running at full capacity. People are continuing to turn to holiday parks as an attractive option,” said Strachan.
Additionally to the demand is a younger generation of Australians who have had the pleasure of camping and caravanning even though the borders between nations were closed. Caravan sales have surpassed records this year, and they thoroughly enjoyed it.
Strachan said they’re seeing this stickiness continue even with the borders now open.
The rate of growth in the sector has been increasing throughout the year. Sales rose by 42% to around AU$1.1 billion between June and October. Comparatively, the same time last year, as per the most recent figures.
The revenues generated in the same time span in 2019 were just more than 800 million dollars.
The increase in June to October in revenue was a continuation of the sector’s increase in revenues up to AU$1.12 billion between January and May, an increase of 4% over 2021.
The occupancy rate between June and October was 47%, which is an increase from the 35% rate during the same time period in 2021. This is significantly higher than the low of 10% recorded in April 2020, when lockdowns were in place.
Sean Jenner, the CEO of Big4 Holiday Parks, which includes more than 180 privately-owned holiday parks operating under its cooperative marketing banner, declared that not only were forward reservation bookings greater than they were the previous year, but guests now feel confident enough to reserve further in advance.
“Demand is higher over the next 12 to 18 months. We are getting bookings being made 18 months out. People are learning to book early,” Jenner said.
He pointed out that the two weeks that followed Christmas and through January’s earliest days were busiest, and most parks were fully booked.
Alongside the rise in the demand for the service, it will benefit from a AU$10 million investment in caravan parks, which was announced in the budget of the federal government.
The program will provide the grant amount of AU$10,000 up to AU$100,000 on an equal basis for investment in capital projects that require capital in privately-owned caravan parks.
“Upgrades to visitor experiences will bring more people to holiday parks and stimulate economic growth,” Strachan said.
“Caravan parks continue to be the backbone of the Australian tourism industry with Australians getting out in their millions as they seek genuine and authentic experiences in some of the most amazing locations in the world,” said Caravan Industry Association Chief Executive Stuart Lamont.