THE HAMSTRUNG tourist park sector is pleading for a break from the COVID-19 restrictions, arguing local facilities and those across the country are well placed to safely resume some accommodation offerings.
While the Caravan Industry Association of Australia says it is pleased with the National Cabinet's positive messaging to a return to "normal" - further thought must be given to cabin-style accommodation and RVs (recreational vehicles) which meet the requirements.
The industry is calling on State Premiers and Chief Ministers to consider roofed accommodation such as cabins within caravan parks and RVs with on-board facilities that include toilet, shower, kitchen etc to be included in their stage one of restrictions easing.
The association argues caravan parks are as safe an option as other accommodation providers, if not more so given their self-contained nature.
Caravan parks already have contact-less check-in and cabins are individual free-standing structures. There are no shared hallways, lifts etc, which are common in other accommodation types.
The association says it's crucial to get cash-flow through businesses in regional Australia over the next few weeks to kick-start economic activity, with research indicating over 350,000 campers are keen to return to camping almost immediately when restrictions are lifted.
In April alone, a period that included Easter and ANZAC day, COVID-19 response measures have cost the caravan industry over $208 million and this figure is further inflated when you consider the loss of expenditure that would have been generated by regional tourism and thousands of small businesses.
"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," Association CEO Stuart Lamont said.
"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 State Premiers and Chief Ministers to consider this in their response to easing restrictions within their jurisdictions."
In March, Kempsey Shire Council moved to implement measures to swiftly reduce the number of guests in the Macleay Valley Coast Holiday Parks.
These steps were carried out in line with the Prime Minister's then request to Australians to limit all travel to essential or business-related purposes.