As a result of ever-diminishing revenue from state and federal governments over the last couple of decades, rural councils across Australia have had to devise various plans to refurbish their coffers in order to provide the services and facilities that ratepayers have come to expect.
One of the most profitable areas of revenue growth for many councils has been the growth of tourism. Thus, the never-ending quest to attract those tourist dollars has become an exercise in innovation and good old advertising to attract people to their areas.
Events such as the Grenfell Henry Lawson Festival have helped increase the bottom line. Natural attractions such as national parks and heritage streetscapes have also been employed to create a steady flow of the sought-after tourist dollar.
Another phenomenon that has also become a target for councils is the huge growth of the “Grey Nomad” retirees who constantly travel the nation in their caravans and motor homes. There are tens of thousands of these special brand of tourists and they have, because of their numbers, become influential in deciding where their money will be spent. The Recreational Vehicle tourists have their own organizations and publications to advise their members where the best bargains and tourist destinations are located. These locations are generally tagged as “RV Friendly” towns in their publications. These are generally towns that provide cheap camping spots for caravans and motor homes for overnight or longer stays. The facilities are listed in their magazines and are very thorough and up to date with their information.
For a council to be able to legally display government-approved “RV Friendly” signs is a passport to obtain a share of this particular share of tourism. To get an idea of the size of this sector one only has to count the number of caravans and motor homes that pass through Grenfell every week. There is no doubting what the monetary effect of attracting even a fraction of this number of tourists, and persuading them to stay longer, would have on the economic fortunes of the shire.
In order to make this plan a reality the June meeting of the Weddin Shire Council was informed that discussions had recently been held with Mr Richard Barwick, General Manager of the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia, as to what was needed to be done to obtain accreditation with his organization. Mr Barwick told the council that his organization did not expect free parking as part of the RV Friendly program.
This then led to the possibility of using the Grenfell Caravan Park as a viable option to meet the requirements. The meeting was also told that the caravan park location would also meet Department of Planning requirements.
After much discussion and some debate the council passed a resolution to “Endorse the Grenfell Caravan Park as the designated camping area for the RV Friendly Town campaign and to effectively amend the Caravan Camping rate at the park for Campervan and Motorhome members to $5 per night for non-powered sites and $10 per night for a powered site”.
The scene is now set for an influx of longer-staying Caravan and Motorhome members.