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OUR local TV station reported this week on the lowering tourism dollar coming into our area. Many business owners were interviewed and bemoaned the fact we are not getting as many tourists as we have had in the past. Bundaberg requires a deliberate detour off the north south route and we need to do something pretty special to entice tourists to make that decision. There are literally millions of dollars going up the Bruce Hwy in the form of moto-tourists who give Bundaberg a wide berth because it is known as RV unfriendly. The recent decision by the council to close the otherwise unclear overnight parking on University Dr opposite the airport by erecting probation signage as well as in other areas around the region has sent a clear message among those looking for a low cost accommodation alternative. The council’s policy is based on the protection of the local caravan park industry, which provides for a certain sector of the travelling public. After all, the parks support the council by paying rates but one has to question the creation of a protected industry. The travelling public, and in particular the Grey Nomads, have a limited budget. If we support a protected industry which is now charging quite a high fee for RV sites we are also making the decision to limit the amount those tourists will have available to spend in the other businesses of the area. I am sure the business community has not fully realised this fact. The Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia has established a set of self contained criteria and a code of conduct for people who wish to visit an area with nil or low cost camping facilities where the members do not drop any discharge from their RV. The system is available to any of the motorhome and caravan clubs. Many regions are opening areas specifically set aside for this purpose and experiencing a higher level of prosperity for all the local businesses. Caravan parks have an opportunity to provide areas without power, water or amenities at a basic fee but, up until now, they have not seen the need to compete; rather they have taken the route of complaining when competition is suggested. On the other hand they are very happy to increase their cabin accommodation in direct competition with the established motel industry. With the Council elections upon us next month I would encourage business owners to be asking the candidates what their policies are in respect to attracting the moto-tourist to the area.
Father Chris Riley I’ve seen first-hand the value of education.