“Help A Mate”: An Industry Response to drive Tourists back into Bushfire Affected Regions

The devastation that we have seen across media in the past weeks due to bushfires is heartbreaking, and our sincerest appreciation goes out to all industry personnel and those volunteers on the ground who are battling these conditions to save lives and property in the most trying of circumstances.

Many of the affected areas should be in absolute peak season brimming with tourists, and yet whole regions remain closed with some caravan parks suggesting they may be over a month before re-opening.  To put this in context we may see up to 3.8 million nights at risk due to evacuations, lost bookings, and forward cancellations in the coming months.  The refunding of deposits alone in some cases will cripple businesses.  The financial and emotional toll is significant and will take many months or years to recover from.  

Importantly once these affected areas re-open, the need for tourist visitation will be vital to assisting these properties start the long process of getting back on their feet.  This goes not only for those areas currently under threat but those for whom have already been affected this bushfire season dating back to September last year.

As your national association we have been liaising with Federal Government Ministers and agencies as well as other industry associations to make sure the issues impacting our industry businesses are highlighted in any recovery discussions.  We are also working closely with caravan state associations and park chains in affected regions who have already provided incredibly useful practical information for their member businesses throughout the crisis.

The one thing I love about our industry is the willingness to “help a mate” in time of crisis, and over the past week I have been receiving calls from concerned industry businesses (including our colleagues overseas) wanting to know how they can help.   To this end we have decided to put a call out to industry wishing to assist through a quarantined industry marketing fund which will be used to directly encourage future visitation to affected areas once it is safe for tourists to return.  A dedicated working group of skilled personnel will be formed to make sure that any funds received are put to best use where they are most needed.  Any ‘Help a Mate’ bushfire activity will be in addition to our ongoing and existing commitment to broader industry stimulus marketing which continues through this period showcasing the benefits of a caravanning and camping holiday. 

The fund has already been kicked off via a generous donation by Dometic of $10,000 and from Vic Parks of $10,000.  Caravan Industry Victoria have also pledged money and people, and individual businesses have already got in on the act with Mandurah Caravan & Tourist Park pledging the proceeds of their Australia Day activities towards the Fund.

If you wish to support your mates, and contribute something to help specifically drive visitation back to these crippled regions please email info@caravanindustry.com.au in the first instance.

In the meantime, we continue to hope for our industry businesses safety, and that of our industry employees and their families, as well as the volunteer services in the regions assisting in getting through what are unprecedented times. 

Stuart Lamont
Chief Executive Officer  Caravan Industry Association of Australia