COVID-19 Industry Update #4 Stimulus Package Announced and Essential Business Update

An Important Message from Caravan Industry Association of Australia to the Caravan Park Industry.

Following the announcement from the Prime Minister today and subsequent announcements by State Governments regarding the intention to close borders and limit non-essential travel, it is evident that the Government is firmly transitioning towards tighter restrictions regarding social distancing.

Caravan Industry Association of Australia would like to provide further advice to industry regarding the status of caravan parks and non-essential domestic trips.  This afternoon, we have reached out to several government representatives to seek clarity on the status of caravan parks and through these informal discussions, we continue to believe caravan parks are considered essential services.  This is based on the following:

  • Caravan parks provide a place of residence for long term tenants;
  • Caravan parks would currently have many short-term visitors who would now be unable to easily travel home due to state and territory border closures;
  • Many caravan and campers who are currently on the road travelling (estimated to be 75,000), will require accommodation whilst they transit home; and
  • Travellers who are currently travelling around Australia may currently have no fixed abode and as such, may need to locate themselves in a commercial property for a period of time.

Therefore, the forced closure of a caravan park would have a significant impact on the health and safety of people.  In addition to the above, with new self-isolation rules which are changing rapidly, we are advocating that caravan parks should be considered for self-isolation purposes due to their non-centralised air-conditioning and the ability to register guests, and practice social distancing – more so than other types of accommodation options.

Although it remains to be stated in formal announcements, it is also evident that the National Cabinet would like all Australians who have not yet begun their travels for the purpose of leisure, to postpone to another date.  Whilst this announcement is heartbreaking for our industry that has been battling hard since last year’s bushfires, the health and safety of Australians will be the Government’s priority.  We understand there is confusion in the market, and we will seek further understanding and continue advocating on behalf of industry in what are incredibly difficult times.

In the meantime, we would strongly encourage caravan park businesses to maintain a proactive conversation with guests expecting to check-in over the coming month to try and retain as many of these bookings by way of credit rather than a refund.  Based on reports received throughout today, some caravan parks have had some success in transferring deposits held into future bookings by getting in front of this communication, although disappointingly we have also heard of some incredible stress and aggressiveness shown by customers towards front line caravan park staff with regard to refunds following the various announcements made by Government today.

While we are firmly of the belief caravan parks are still essential businesses, the advice around offices and factories is less certain.  With further announcements pending regarding the closure of non-essential business, we will wait and seek guidance regarding these businesses following statements to come from Victoria and New South Wales as well as Scott Morrison in the next 24 hours.

We would also like to take this opportunity to commend the Government’s fiscal stimulus announcement to support incomes, relax access to superannuation, provide SME business support and provide regulatory support for which many of these announcements were strongly advocated for.  More importantly, however, is their indication that this stimulus package for businesses and employees is only one step in the process and that more fiscal stimulus is to follow. Further information of the specifics of this stimulus announcement can be found here https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Overview-Economic_Response_to_the_Coronavirus_0.pdf 

We do acknowledge that some businesses, particularly in the manufacturing industry, may not be eligible for the cashflow relief announced and we will continue to advocate to free up working capital so that these businesses can reduce their impact on their continuity of business.

Our thoughts are with you, your families and customers during these unprecedented times, and we will continue to work strongly on the industry’s behalf to ensure we are positioned to lead the market recovery when the crisis eases.

Further information on the activities we are undertaking and a range of resources can be found here https://www.caravanindustry.com.au/coronavirus-covid-19-information