Mr Davis, aged 70, was a successful businessman and a key player in the tourism industry who had owned caravan parks, a motel and hotels both in Adelaide and on the Yorke Peninsula. He was instrumental in industry change and was involved in setting up the beginnings of the national peak body which today has become the Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA).
He had been a long-standing member of the Top Tourist Park Board and became Chairman in 2011, a position which he held at the time of his passing. He also served as the President of the South Australian Caravan Parks Association for more than 40 years, only stepping down from this position in August this year.
“Richard loved tourism and used his knowledge and experience to support the entire industry throughout his life,” Top Tourist Parks Chief Executive Officer Stuart Livingstone said. “He was affectionately described by his peers as a giant of the tourism industry and was respected for his down-to-earth attitude and tenacity.”
“Tourism, not just the caravanning industry has lost a great leader,” said CIAA Federal Chairman Mark Lindsay. “Every time we pushed the boundary's towards industry improvement, Richard was always right behind you challenging and supporting so that the industry fortunes could advance. His commitment and love for the industry was unquestionable."
CIAA Chief Executive Officer Stuart Lamont also spoke fondly of Mr Davis. “Richard was a giant of support and one who thought firstly of others before himself. He was a gentle man who was incredibly generous in his time and service and willingly shared his knowledge and experience without hesitation. His enthusiasm for tourism shone through as he passionately spoke and championed for an industry he loved. There are many who are much the better for having known or crossed paths with Richard,” he said.
Mr Davis was the recipient of many industry awards, acknowledging his years of service to the industry. In 1997, he won the South Australian Tourism Awards Outstanding Contribution to Tourism by an Individual award and in 1999 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his services to South Australian tourism. Just a few years later in 2010, he won the prestigious Harry Dowling Award for an Outstanding Contribution by an Individual to the South Australian regional tourism industry.
He also won Top Tourist Park’s Hugh Diedrich award in 2009 and the Eric Hayman Award for services to the Australian caravanning and camping industry in 1996.
Mr Davis, a car enthusiast, had just finished driving a section at the Targa High Country car rally in Victoria when he suffered a heart attack. He is survived by his wife Margaret.