Importance of Caravan Industry for Australia (CIAA)

Stuart Lamont — 28 July 2022
Most Australians are blissfully unaware of the significant economic impact that the caravan industry makes to our economy.

The impressive annual contribution of $23 billion (and growing) is the combined product of over 6,000 businesses in the sector, the deeply passionate and largely SME workforce, and the enthusiasm of caravan and camping consumers – both new and old.  

The caravan industry is the largest remaining bastion of automotive manufacturing in Australia, and according to Tourism Research Australia – is the largest provider of holiday nights of any accommodation offering. To boot, a recent study by BDO shows that every $1 million generated in tourism revenue from caravanning and camping supports 12 full-time equivalent jobs, many of which are in regional Australia.  With such reach and continued performance, it seems odd that the industry very often sits under the radar – with many political leaders regarding caravanning and camping as a recreational activity rather than a powerhouse domestic industry.

Further highlighting the current strength in market, the industry is on track to record an all-time high in new RVs supplied to the local Australian market; even in the wake of COVID-19 impacts on local manufacturing activity, supply chains, and labour constraints, with imports supporting the excess of demand in the market.  Despite this, the local caravan industry remains a powerhouse in sovereign manufacturing, with 90% of RVs on our roads today made right here in Australia.  What is more, Australia’s reputation for constructing the toughest RV products continues to gain traction internationally and has resulted in a currently small ($38M+ in FY21) but steadily growing export market, the value of which has increased ten-fold since 2012.

It is these 840,000+, largely Australian-made, registered RVs travelling more than a billion kilometres every year that help facilitate and funnel an annual tourism spend of over $10 billion into rural and remote communities, supporting caravan parks, experience providers and swathes of SME businesses right across the nation.  

Turning to caravan parks, these are the backbone of the accommodation industry in Australia, especially in regional areas, supporting independent travel, and the one component of the tourism industry which has led a post-COVID travel recovery as Australians were desperate to have high class accommodation options in safe and welcoming environments.  Caravan parks importantly supply the most broad, varied, and affordable tourism accommodation offerings in the country.  The diversification of these parks and the investment into infrastructure, facilities and entertainment over the past twenty years has driven sustained growth into the industry, and has created loved destinations for holidaymakers and much needed employment opportunities in local communities.  In fact, before, during and post-COVID the caravan and camping industry has consistently remained the biggest domestic tourism sector and for the year ending September 2021 more than 12.8 million caravan and camping trips and over 52.1 million nights were recorded across Australia.  

As the peak national industry body, we are committed to facilitating and continuing this positive trajectory for the benefit of the Australian caravan and camping industry stakeholders and the broader Australian economy at large.  With a new Federal Government recently sworn in we welcome the opportunity to showcase the importance of the caravanning industry across our four main policy platforms:

  • Strengthening Australia’s Sovereign Manufacturing;

  • Supercharging Australian Tourism for Recovery;

  • Future Proofing the Caravan and Camping Industry; and

  • Improving Road Safety Outcomes.

There have already been positive announcements towards caravanning and camping through the electoral campaign, and Caravan Industry of Australia looks forward to working constructively with the new Albanese Government in making the industry safer, sustainable, and more compliant.

Stuart Lamont

Chief Executive Officer

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