The tourism sector is split over a plan by South Gippsland Shire Council to attract more visitors.
Council wants to promote the Franklin River Reserve at Toora, Bass Valley Camping Ground between Poowong and Loch, and Buckley Park, Fish Creek to entice the rapidly growing self-contained Recreation Vehicle (RV) market.
Elizabeth White, CEO of the Victorian Caravan Parks Association and Rachael Brown of the Toora Tourist Park and also those that are not seasoned travellers need to realise that those self-contained RV travellers that choose to use free and low cost camp sites will not be coerced or forced to use caravan parks or pay to use their dump points. When they do stay in caravan parks, it has to be by choice.
They will change their travel plans and frequent areas that offer them choice.
Word of mouth and online forums quickly spread the news of areas to be avoided because they do not offer choices.
Many South Gippsland ratepayers that take an annual pilgrimage are provided with free camps by other councils. Shouldn’t we reciprocate for RV visitors to South Gippsland?
If caravan parks wish to engage with this rapidly growing segment of the self-contained RV market, they need to review their business plan to reflect the needs of the modern traveller.
A reduced rate could be offered to those wanting only a piece of land to park on.
Those only wishing to catch some sleep as they are in a hurry to get to a destination could be considered for a reduced rate.
Some detest the industry standard 10am checkout; a noon checkout would be at zero cost to caravan operators and would be attractive to some potential customers.
Unpowered sites for self-contained motorhomes and caravans would be great, not the standard answer of we only have non-powered sites for tents.
Try and obtain an overnight site or even two nights in most of the local tourist caravan parks during Christmas/January holidays, sorry, minimum booking is one week.
Easter, sorry, minimum of four days.
Long weekends, sorry, three days.
Newsflash, the use of keypads on ablution blocks keeps out alleged shower thieves and also ensures the paying users are safe whilst showering.
Not all local caravan parks provide grey water discharge points for each site yet they are against the installation of free dump points.
Life is all about choice. If a business offers a product that does not suit; you have an option to choose a product that does. It is called freedom of choice.
If caravan parks offer a product and it does not suit, you should not have to accept it, you should have freedom of choice.
Whether free camping is allowed or not, maintenance costs are paid for by ratepayers for these plots of council managed land.
Day visitors and drivers managing their fatigue still require the facilities to be maintained.
Why do caravan parks associations and caravan park operators expect caravan parks to be a protected species?
Other businesses do not expect or receive special privileges that they demand.
The RV tourist’s dollar should be spread around town, not hijacked by caravan parks.
Caravan parks like to forget that they took revenue away from motels when they introduced accommodation cabins to their bag of tricks.
Competitive neutrality cannot be used against free camping by caravan park associations or caravan park operators whilst caravan parks continue to receive Federal and State Government funding.
In March, 2013, the then Federal Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson approved grants to caravan parks in excess of $1.5 million.
In June, 2013, Victorian Deputy Premier Peter Ryan, Member for Gippsland South, announced a $30,000 grant to a Victorian caravan park.
Peter McGaw, Leongatha.