Queensland caravan industry waits on border reopening
Return of interstate travellers vital for state's van parks.
Hordes of southern invaders are poised to enter Queensland as soon as the state drops its interstate travel restrictions.
Mostly from New South Wales and Victoria, they will be towing caravans or sitting behind the steering wheels of RVs and will be welcomed with open arms by Queensland’s tourism operators and businesses.
After their coronavirus-enforced lockdown, travellers are eager to make what, for many, is an annual pilgrimage up the Queensland coast and into its outback.
Caravan Trade and Industries Association of Queensland CEO Jason Plant said there were indications that as soon as the State Government opened the state’s southern border there would be a flood of visitors.
“We have anecdotal reports that travellers are in caravan parks situated just over the border waiting for it to reopen,” Mr Plant said.
He said activity at caravan parks had picked up in recent weeks after the coronavirus-enforced three-month hibernation.
“As soon as the Premier (Annastacia Palaszczuk) reduced the restrictions around intrastate travel, caravan parks started getting bookings, particularly coastal parks,” Mr Plant said.
“The parks within 250km of the major centres are filling quickly.
“For parks further out west, it has been taking longer but there certainly has been an increase in bookings.
“We’ve seen over the past three months people have been housebound and now they are itching to get out and about.
Mr Plant said local travellers accounted for the increased interest in parks nearest to major centres while outback parks and those further north relied more on longer-term travellers from interstate.
“It’s starting to emerge that the border closure is having more of an impact on van parks out west and in the north, which rely on southerners,” he said.
“We’ve missed the people who leave Victoria and New South Wales in late April to early May and spend two to three months travelling through Queensland.’’
Mr Plant was hopeful the border would reopen in July which would allow for some of the caravanning season, which usually finished at the end of September to early October.
“If they do open in July, there is still a chance we might salvage some of the season,” Mr Plant said.
“But we just don’t know how far into Queensland people will venture given the reduced amount of time they will have.
“If they waited until September to reopen the border that would be disastrous for some of our members. Obviously the sooner they open the border the better.”
Janelle Moore, who owns Daintree Rainforest Village with her husband Mark, said they reopened on 1 June after closing their campground and caravan park on 18 March.
“From 1 June people started arriving at the campground,” Mrs Moore said. “We were still reading about it (the easing of travel restrictions) on the internet and they were knocking on our door.”
Mrs Moore said initial bookings were from people in the far north Queensland region but they were starting to come from farther away.
“We are going to pick up in the next week or so before really picking up and then it is probably going to die off around October, which is normal,” she said.
The RACQ member was hopeful of getting visitors from southern states once the borders reopened.
“My thinking is that the southerners, when they are allowed, will come because we have the warmer temperatures,” Mrs Moore said. “They want to get away from the cold in June, July and August.”
Mrs Moore said they would also miss out on the traditional influx of European tourists over summer, which was the off-season for southern visitors who did not like the heat and humidity.
“In the summer months we generally get the Europeans – they love the heat, they don’t care how hot it is,” she said.
“That is not going to happen this Christmas.”
Daintree Rainforest Village, which has a small general store and fuel station, is on Cape Tribulation Rd, 14km north of the Daintree River and has 30 sites, including 14 with power.
Photos: Tourism and Events Queensland; Daintree Rainforest Village