BOOKED OUT: Winter can’t stop caravan & camping boom
THE Downs may be in for one of its frostiest winters in years, but that hasn’t stopped tourists far and wide flocking to campsites across the region this school holidays.
Since coronavirus restrictions eased at the beginning of June, camping and caravan sites across the Southern Downs have reported huge numbers of visitors itching to travel after months in lockdown.
For Lake Leslie Tourist Park owners Adam and Caroline Bennett, this month’s boom in camp sites and cabin stays has helped them recoup their huge financial losses from the pandemic.
“Normally at this time of year it starts to lull down throughout the winter period, but I would say we’ve doubled or tripled the clientele we’ve seen this year,” Mr Bennett said.
“We were hoping and praying that people would come out, I just wasn’t expecting the numbers that we did see.
“It’s been so good to have everyone come out, including heaps of new faces, and have them spend some time with us, do their shopping and all that stuff in town to support the locals in there too.”
Closer to the centre of town, Rose City Caravan Park co-owner Michelle Park said their site had been experiencing a similar trend, with more visitors choosing to extend their stay.
“What I have noticed is that last year, we had a lot of people staying one or two nights, whereas this year they’ll stay for four nights up to a week,” Mrs Cox said.
“I’m optimistic for the holidays – it’s not going to be normal though, because of course there’s no sports, festivals like Jumpers & Jazz, none of that stuff that happens every year.
“But I’m still hoping that people are coming out on day trips, even for a couple of days or anything.”
Despite being so close to the state boundaries, Mrs Cox said the prolonged closure of Queensland’s borders were yet to have a significant impact on their caravan site or revenue.
“Normally, (tourists) come up from the south about March or April, as they go through Warwick to travel up further,” she said.
“The majority of our people would be from Queensland, and that’s standard any year.
“People are still pretty aware of social distancing and everything, particularly at the moment with what’s happening in other states – they would hate it to be shut down again.”
Goomburra Valley Campground owners Brad and Teresa Badgery said they too were completely booked out during the school holiday period, to the point they had already been forced to turn visitors away.
“March to April is our busiest time of the year, with that first third getting us through the rest of the year with payments, so it was concerning being closed during that period,” Mr Badgery said.
“For us, we’re close to Brisbane, Toowoomba, and Warwick, and we think it will take everyone a while to get the cabin fever out of their system, even travelling within Queensland.
“With international travel being stopped for years, we’re probably on a good side that people can’t travel, meaning they’ll hopefully come camping instead.”