Grey nomads to boost parks in the long run
THERE may be some light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel for caravan parks in the Banana Shire.
Biloela Caravan and Tourist Park, Taroom Caravan and Tourist Park and Boomerang Caravan Park owner Glen Cross sees a boost in his sector in the long run.
Mr Cross predicted that caravan parks may be flooded with grey nomads and especially elderly travellers in the long term future, with that market to likely be hesitant to book flights and overseas travel amid fears of contracting the virus.
“The caravan and campervan sector will take a boost in the long term if caravan park operators can hold on,” Mr Cross said.
“People will be more reluctant to travel by airline and cruise ship.
“There should be a spike in demand for that sector of travel regardless of if they get a vaccine
“A vaccine will help but whether people over 65 will want to go back on cruise ship... I don’t know.”
For now though the situation for Mr Cross and caravan park operators around the state is bleak and he says it will remain that way unless the Queensland Government opens up the border for interstate travel soon to catch what’s left of the peak season.
“Generally the season for regional Queensland starts after the Easter holidays when people go back to school in New South Wales and Victoria,” Mr Cross said
“That’s when the grey nomads start to head north at the start of May and turn around and go back at the end of September when it warms up.
“If they don't open the borders up shortly we might lose that season entirely and if someone else opens it up in another state they might ignore Queensland all together.
“If you had a look at the percentage of Queensland travellers versus interstate travellers in Queensland tourism caravan parks, you’d say 80-90 per cent are from interstate.
“Allowing the Queensland state travel will make marginal difference to our occupancy rate.”
When the PM enforced the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown at the end of March, Mr Cross said that he effectively ‘lost everyone’ across his tourist parks in Taroom and Biloela.
There was however a silver lining with the Boomerang Caravan Park maintaining it’s permanent residents and also attracting contractors working in the region on government projects.
“That hasn’t been to bad that park, the government has brought forward contracts that might not of otherwise started,” Mr Cross said.
“That’s got us through, without those we would have no revenue.
“Parks work through one of three different revenue streams, tourism, contractors and cabins and holiday accommodation.
“It depends, if you’re 100 per cent exposed to the tourism sector you would of lost everything
“Boomerang is a lot more permanent so we had the benefit of having of having permanence and some of the contractors”.
Moving forward Mr Cross said that caravan parks need more financial support from the government in the form of an allowance on maybe land taxes or pedestal charges.