Grey nomads are calling on the government to ease current restrictions around caravan parks and allow people back on the roads, as Australia continues to battle against Covid-19.
The outbreak of the virus has had a devastating impact on the travel industry, with restaurants, cafes and tourist attractions forced into closure over the past couple of months. But as the curve begins to flatten and restrictions are slowly eased, travellers are itching to get back on the road and help boost the economy.
The Caravan Industry Association of Australia has called for roofed accomodation and RVs with onboard facilities to be included in the first stage of easing restrictions. This includes cabins within caravan parks and RVs that include toilet, shower and kitchen facilities. They claim caravan parks are as safe an option as other accommodation providers, if not more so, given their self-contained nature with no shared hallways and lifts and contactless check-in options.
Association CEO Stuart Lamont said it’s crucial to get cashflow through businesses and regional Australia during this trying time. And Aussies are definitely eager to get out exploring, with research indicating over 350,000 campers want to return to camping almost immediately when further restrictions are lifted.
“Caravan parks have the ability to manage social distancing, adhere to increased hygiene, have strong contact tracing procedures in place, and yet they remain lumped in with unmanaged campgrounds who quite rightly should be opened in step two, but behind that is commercial operations which can demonstrate Covid-safe environments,” Lamont said.
“Caravan park operators have been encouragingly quick to respond to plan and implement ways to be proactive in reducing the risk of Covid-19 exposure to guests and staff. This is a failure of government decision makers to recognise the diverse nature of what a modern caravan park is, and how it can manage the risk. We urge premiers and chief ministers to consider this in their response to easing restrictions within their jurisdictions.”
On Friday last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a three-step plan to ease restrictions, with states and territory governments then given the power to make the final call on when to change the rules for residents. The plan outlines local and regional travel as okay in step one, while some intrastate travel will be allowed under step two, which is expected in June.
However, some premiers have already given intrastate travel the all clear, including South Australia, with residents being encouraged to hit the road and support communities as caravan parks and camp grounds open their doors to the public.
But for other states such as Queensland and Victoria, residents will have to wait before they travel further afield from their local communities. At this stage the Sunshine State is set to allow some travel (150kms from home) from Friday, May 15, but only for day trips. This will be extended to 250kms from home in June.
While in Victoria residents will be allowed to travel for day trips from Wednesday onwards such as to the beach or for hikes. However, camping and staying at hotels will not be permitted.
Travel at 60 Chief Commercial Officer Wendy Harch said there’s no doubt Aussies still have the travel bug, with the team answering calls from people right across the country who have expressed their interest in regional holidays once restrictions have eased. In fact, in a customer survey conducted by Travel at 60 this week over 75 per cent said they were planning travel within Australia this year and a whopping 92 per cent are planning on travel in the country in 2021.
“Customers calling the call centre this week have expressed their strong desire to get out of the house and we see this translating well to a kick-start for many tourism businesses doing it tough during the last few months,” Harch said. “With 89 per cent of our audience either retired or planning retirement, they have time available and money put away to travel.
“The Travel at 60 audience is looking for a mix of destinations and experiences. They love regional travel with hot selling destinations this week including the Queensland outback and the Kimberley region.”
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