COVID-19: Industry Update
March 20, 2020
Earlier this week, Caravan Industry Association of Australia formally requested the Federal Government to provide a stimulus package for the caravanning and camping industry which will support jobs, support local manufacturing businesses, and support regional Australia.
This cross-departmental request urgently called on multiple departments and ministers to support our sector through this time of need. For 60 years, the caravan and camping industry has been a stalwart of Australian manufacturing and domestic tourism sectors. It is an industry that, as the local car industry eroded, has continued to increase production, push the boundaries of innovation, delivered jobs and training, provided homes for people in need, created places for families to holiday, and generated significant economic benefits for regional economies.
Caravan Industry Association of Australia requested the following:
BUSINESS AND EMPLOYEE SUPPORT
Having already been impacted by the bushfires in summer and the COVID-19 related lock down of supply chains in China from January, many caravan and camping businesses have been pushed to the very edge with many considering staff redundancies, a decrease in production and business closures. Businesses need support from government.
- Personal Income Tax and Superannuation Relief
The next six months is going to be most challenging for businesses across the country and for their employees. The Association is advocating for a freeze on the collection of personal income tax for staff and superannuation contributions, to instead be redirected into employee wages for the following six months. Similar policies have been adopted in other countries and is shown to specifically help casual and seasonal workforce.
- Business No-Interest or Concessional Loans
Ensuring businesses can remain operational through the following six months is crucial to ensure Australia’s economy is able to recover when this crisis has passed. This requires businesses to have access to financial resources to maintain their staff, pay suppliers, produce stock and deliver services. We are urgently calling on government to provide no-interest or concessional loans to industry businesses to assist in cashflow to enable them to maintain operations and the employment of staff in the coming months.
- Crisis Management
Research shows that 90% of businesses do not have a crisis and response plan in place. These businesses urgently need resources and funding to develop actions plans to support crisis management, business and recovery planning.
- COVID-19 Preparation and Cleaning Grants for Accommodation Providers
Across the accommodation sector, additional resources are required to support the extra cost of hiring cleaners and purchasing cleaning products to ensure hygiene standards are being met during the COVID-19 Outbreak. This includes increased cleaning regimes, disinfecting rooms and ensuring self-distancing measures are being adhered to. The Association is calling on the provision of a grant for caravan holiday parks to access a one off $20,000 payment towards the employment of new full-time cleaners to ensure social distancing and hygiene measures are adhered to.
FUTURE READY INITIATIVES
Although the focus must remain on the immediacy of community health and business operations, industry and government must also prepare for the recovery of the economy.
- Skills and Training Programs
Lower consumer demand and the reduction in operations, provides an opportunity to increase staff training and to upskill employees to prepare for the opportunities and new business models that lay ahead. Through providing funding for training and education, it helps keep people employed, provides job opportunities for education providers and ensures industry is best positioned when market recovers.
- International Ready Program
In due course, international visitors will return to Australia. There is an opportunity to prepare Australia’s caravan and camping industry to increase its awareness and its market readiness in key international sectors. The Association is calling on Government to fund an international ready program for the caravan and camping in partnership with ATEC to upskill accommodation and rental companies in preparation for the international market recovery.
- RVSA Transition Funding
The Road Vehicle Standards Act has already been delayed at the significant cost to manufacturing businesses and industry who have heavily invested financial resources in preparation for the transition. Resources that they could have used to support their operations during these challenging times.
The Association is urgently calling on Government to provide funding to help recreational vehicle manufacturers speed up the transition process to Road Vehicle Standard Act, thus providing employment opportunities as well as improved industry compliance, protecting consumer safety and confidence in the sector.
- Caravan and Camping Industry Strategy
The Australian caravanning and camping industry is a $23.6 billion industry that employs 53,000 people, manufactures 21,000 vehicles per annum, services over 800,000 vehicles on the road, generates 12 million trips and creates 60 million visitor nights across the country. It is also uniquely positioned to springboard economic activity as well as support mental health of Australians when this crisis eases.
The Association is seeking funding for the development of a nationwide caravan and camping industry strategy to steer the recovery and growth of the sector over the coming decade.
CONSUMER DEMAND INITIATIVES
Activities and policies must be put in place now to be ready to drive consumer demand once the COVID-19 crisis has passed.
- Domestic Marketing
There is no doubt that the domestic visitor economy will be the first to rebound and will play a vital and immediate role in the recovery of Australia’s tourism industry. It is important that the government ensures Tourism Australia is well-funded to maintain its new domestic tourism mandate, with an emphasis on drive tourism and regional dispersal.
- Holiday Here This Year Tax Deduction
When the time is right, it is imperative that Australians begin to travel again and holiday in regional economies to support communities and local economies. To encourage consumer demand, the Association proposes the provision of a personal tax deduction for any Australian undertaking a domestic holiday when staying in commercial accommodation for more than 3 nights.
- Rental Motorhome and Campervan Assistance Demand Scheme
The RV rental industry has been decimated due to the loss of our international markets. The Association proposes the creation of a rental motorhome and campervan assistance demand scheme to provide a $300 cash payment to be made available to the rental vehicle companies as a direct rebate on visitors’ hire vehicles when they hire a recreational vehicle for longer than 3 days. This would encourage domestic markets to rent a recreational vehicle and go travelling.
We strongly encourage government to act boldly in the decisions and economic stimulus that they propose to ensure the long sustainability of Australia’s economy and the caravan and camping industry. Although the focus is on the immediacy of the situation, an investment into the sustainability of the caravan and camping sector will help protect the $23.6 billion the industry creates on an annual basis.