Viv Arthur Manager of Discovery Park Rockhampton at the new waterpark, opened last December.
Viv Arthur Manager of Discovery Park Rockhampton at the new waterpark, opened last December.

How free camping will affect accommodation operators

A ROCKHAMPTON accommodation operator claims to have had a strong winter season since free camping ceased at Kershaw Gardens.

But now she fears her future income may be compromised as council moves to reinstate the free camping.

Rockhampton Regional Council lost a court battle against Caravan Parks Association of Queensland for the free camping on the argument that it breached council's planning scheme. Free camping was banned as of February 12.

It was reported last week council had adopted an amendment to the planning scheme that changes the zoning codes, superseding the controversial court ruling. Free camping is expected to be effective early in the new year.

Viv Arthur, manager of Discovery Parks Rockhampton, a holiday and caravan park on Yaamba Rd, is worried how it might affect her business.

The business installed a $1.6 million waterpark last December that has attracted many guests, including 360 one-day visits from locals.

"Off the back of a really strong winter season, we are looking forward to a busy Christmas and summer period," Ms Arthur said.

"Discovery Parks Rockhampton is a holiday destination in itself, which means our guests want to stay with us for an extended period - not just a couple of nights - which is great for the town.

"Our new waterpark is a great asset for locals, with many choosing to spend quality family time and celebrate special occasions in the park."

Discovery Parks regional manager Brad Carter echoed her comments.

"We continue to invest in developing Discovery Parks Rockhampton so that we can attract guests who stay longer and spend more money locally," Mr Carter said.

"It's good quality parks with great facilities and security that help to grow local tourism economies.

"Our new waterpark is a great example of this, with our guest numbers having grown since it opened late last year."

The Caravan Parks Association defended their members and said free camping could be detrimental to Rockhampton accommodation businesses.

The association claims while Kershaw Gardens was open for overnight camping, visitor numbers were down 30 per cent.

"Over the last 10 months, caravan parks have reported seeing increased visitor numbers for stays over 48 hours in Rockhampton," CPAQ general manager Michelle Weston said.

"This indicates reinstating overnight RV camping will have an overall negative economic impact upon the entire Rockhampton community.

"It has been proven that high quality commercial caravan parks encourage visitors to stay in the region in excess of 48 hours, creating a significant positive impact on the region's economy and supporting other local businesses.

"This includes employing local residents, working with local businesses and contractors and encouraging tourism among local suppliers.

Referring to Discovery Park's investment with the new waterpark, CPAQ said free camping could potentially stop new developments being built in town.

"Further creating a multi-tiered regulatory environment, where the council receives advantages not offered to the local caravan parks and other local businesses, will limit reinvestment in caravan parks in the region and impact the number of visitor nights in the region," Ms Weston said.