Van parks are how they roll
CARAVAN king Gerry Ryan says the strength of the nation’s camping and caravan market will see him create another 250 jobs at his Jayco manufacturing plant in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges, which already directly employs 1200 staff.
The Jayco chairman, privately worth $380 million, says he is increasingly knocking back private equity firms wanting to buy into the business, given the increasing demand for his motor homes, caravans and camper trailers.
Jayco controls 51 per cent of the Australian market and exports to New Zealand and Asia.
“The market has been growing since 2009,” says Ryan.
Indeed, new data reveal Australians’ love affair with camping continues, but Chinese, German and American holidaymakers are also taking to our back roads, with government figures revealing a 12 per cent hike in domestic and international holiday stays in camping grounds to 33.3 million nights in 2016.
John O’Sullivan, managing director of Tourism Australia, said Chinese tourists were increasingly driving themselves and camping in Tasmania, which was among their most popular destinations on the back of President Xi Jinping’s visit.
There’s been a 38 per cent jump in American tourists camping here, a 14 per cent rise in British travellers and a 17 per cent increase in Germans hitting our roads and camping grounds.
Victoria’s Great Ocean Road and Cairns and Port
Douglas are among the most popular for international campers.
Victoria recorded 7 per cent growth in camping last year but every other state showed double digit growth, says Caravan Industry Association chief executive Stuart Lamont.
Average stays in caravan parks are increasing to nearly five nights as caravan and camping facilities improve and more domestic travellers choose camping holidays, particularly for fishing and walking.
“We have camped all over Britain and Europe, and this is ideal,” says British holiday maker Jeremy Clines in Sydney. “This is much cheaper than Airbnb,” he adds, saying that with their own tent it’s costing the family of four just $285 a week.
With average Sydney hotel room rates costing $200-plus a night, camp sites in inner city spots such as Cockatoo Island are relatively cheap at just $45 through to $175 a night for glamping, which includes waterfront camping in a 3m x 3m tent.
Meanwhile, Ryan says the only thing hampering the industry is property developers buying up camping grounds.
“Developers have come in and bought caravan parks because of the return on investments,” he says.
“The industry will be facing shortages of land.”
The Jacob family from NSW are staying in Port Douglas for a week