Holiday parks face gradual decline due to caravanning

HOLIDAY parks on the NSW North Coast will struggle to meet the demands of a booming caravanning industry, a study has predicted.

Looking at the gradual decline in caravan parks and the resurgence in registrations of RV homes, Southern Cross University found the contrasting trends could create a serious accommodation crisis within the caravanning sector.

Researcher Rod Caldicott, from SCU's School of Tourism, said that with the sector providing 50% of the accommodation industry's total domestic bed capacity, caravanning in Australia was at "an interesting crossroads in its evolutionary cycle".

He said that while caravan manufacturing was experiencing rapid growth - about 23,000 units are produced every year - parks in coastal areas were crumbling under the pressure of competing with beach front high rises and resorts.

Using the Tweed Shire as a case study, Mr Caldicott found the Far North Coast of NSW was mirroring national trendsTent sites in the shire's 27 tourist parks had gone from an average of 32 sites to 11 from the 70s to 2010 and non-ensuite caravan sites were 36% below their peak in the 70.

He said a major factor in declining sites for caravans was the emergence of ensuite cabins, from an average of five sites per park in 1990 to nine sites in 2010.

"The rejuvenation of caravan parks will come through emerging demand for specialised fully serviced sites... those providing drive through sites for grey nomads travelling in larger motorhomes, or those catering exclusively for the new breed of camper-trailer and themed cabin developments, as both gain popularity with families," Mr Caldicott said.

"The future of the caravanning in Australia will be measured by the industry's ability to continually reinvent supply with new product offerings targeted to new customers."

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