by Michelle Hogan, CMCA Communications and Marketing Team
When planning a trip across Australia in a self-contained recreational vehicle (RV), one of the things people look forward to most is the idea of being able to stop wherever you like, whenever you like. Once they hit the road, travellers all too soon discover the unfortunate reality that you cannot always stop wherever you like, whenever you like, as access to non-commercial accommodation has become restricted in many places.
Those who have travelled throughout Australia are undoubtedly all too familiar with unfriendly attitudes that can emerge when low-cost parking is chosen instead of paying for commercial accommodation. The fact is that RV tourists, generally travelling for months at a time, are not always going to succumb to the appeal of commercial accommodation which, quite correctly, demands a premium fee for access to their swimming pools, jumping castles and family BBQs.
RV tourism has remained one of the most resilient markets during the recent economic downturn and is only expected to increase further over the coming years, particularly as the ‘baby boomer’ generation continues to retire. There are still numerous showgrounds, racecourses and reserves that are currently being under-utilised as overnight accommodation access is being restricted due to government legislation.
The Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA) supports freedom of choice when camping overnight and believes that RV tourists should have access to an appropriate accommodation mix which includes both low cost and commercial options. This includes greater access to state and national parks, the development of regional and rural rest areas, and access to community land.
With this in mind, CMCA developed the RV Friendly Town™ (RVFT) Scheme; an initiative aimed at assisting RV tourists as they journey throughout this wonderful country.
An RVFT is one that has met a set of guidelines that ensures they provide adequate amenities, and a certain level of service for these travellers. RV tourists can feel confident visiting an RVFT, knowing that they will be welcomed, a variety of services will be provided for them that may not be available elsewhere, and there will be access to a safe place to stay overnight.
Before any town can be included in the Scheme, there is a set of criteria that must be met:
- Provision of appropriate parking within the town centre, including access to a general shopping area with groceries or fresh produce.
- Provision of short term (24 hour or 48 hour) parking for self-contained vehicles, no more than five kilometres from the post office or agency.
- Access to potable water.
- Access to a free dump point within town precinct.
There are desirable attributes that CMCA also looks for when selecting an RVFT and these include access to medical facilities, long-term parking and a visitor information centre that can provide appropriate parking and a town map.
CMCA will always look at the general attitude of the council and the business people before granting the RVFT status. After all, it is called the RV ‘Friendly’ Town™ Scheme. The Scheme offers town business owners the opportunity to be innovative in meeting the needs of these travellers, while at the same time growing their businesses.
Numerous CMCA surveys have revealed that RV travellers who have access to non-commercial accommodation will be more likely to stay for longer periods of time in one area, and will also spend more money with the local businesses. To increase visitation from passing travellers CMCA offer roadside ‘RV Friendly’ signs to councils who participate in the Scheme and a subsidy program also exists to assist with the town’s cost of installing a dump point (if one is not already installed).
We encourage Members to let CMCA know about any town they consider exceptionally ‘friendly’, and we also want to know about towns that are not ‘friendly’. The RV travellers’ grapevine is one of the most valuable tools used to determine suitable RVFTs; of course towns themselves can express interest in gaining RV Friendly status and we encourage them to do so by contacting the CMCA Member Services Team on 02 4978 8788 or by emailing email@example.com
For the full article, including photos, download Issue 23 of iMotorhome eMagazine by clicking on the link below.