Some states win big as tourist park revenues soar above 2019 levels

13 September 2021 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read
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New research from BDO has found that tourist park revenues in Australia have surged past 2019 levels, although some states have fared far better than others.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has not so much redrawn the internal map of Australia as solidified it, the rolling lock-downs in various states have had a notable impact on the country’s tourist park segment, according to the latest research from accounting and consulting network BDO. The study found that in some states, tourist park occupancy rates and revenues have now surged way past pre-pandemic levels, with Australians forced to holiday in their own back-yards.

Conducted in conjunction with the Caravan Industry Association of Australia, BDO pegged 2021 tourist park revenues to July at ~$1.65 billion, not unexpectedly up from the close to $915 million brought in over the same period last year. Meanwhile, the national average occupancy rate has been hovering above the 50 percent mark throughout the first half of the year, up from just the 24 percent across all of 2020 and easily exceeding the 35 percent rate recorded in 2019.

Some states win big as tourist park revenues soar above 2019 levels

Yet, not all states have benefited evenly, with the Delta variation outbreaks and subsequent public health responses taking their toll on providers in Victoria and NSW – that latter which sank to a 16 percent occupancy rate through the month of July, while neither state has achieved a rate of above 30 percent since May. Meanwhile, the Northern Territory, Queensland, and Western Australia have all notched record monthly occupancy during the same period.

The Northern Territory in particular, which has had just the two brief snap lockdowns and no cases of community transmission since the beginning of the pandemic, has managed to record a peak of 70 percent occupancy, with ‘grey nomads’ and other travellers scrambling for the border following lockdown announcements elsewhere becoming a familiar sight over the past eighteen months. Western Australia and Queensland have also recently achieved peaks of above 55 percent.

Still, South Australia and Tasmania – both largely unaffected by Covid-19 in recent months – have suffered from low occupancy rates since winter, suggesting a market impacted by a lack of interstate travel along with seasonal factors. The tourist park sectors of both states have however significantly increased revenues against 2019, especially South Australia, which is up by $63 million for an 80 percent increase. Tasmania has added $11 million, to be up by 42 percent.

Overall, every state and territory has increased its revenues since before the pandemic, with the Western Australian market growing by almost $100 million, or 61 percent, despite adopting a hard-line border closure policy. Even Victoria, the worst affected state over the full course of the pandemic, has recorded a 31 percent revenue spike (on par with Queensland), worth a total of $67 million. New South Wales and the Top End had more moderate increases of 21 percent.

“While the sector is yet to make up for the huge losses experienced in 2020, it is positive to see this upturn in Australians booking trips to their local tourist parks,” said Angus Strachan, BDO partner and Adelaide-based director of business services, who noted an emerging trend toward post-lockdown travel. “With overseas travel off the cards for a while, this provides a great opportunity for our tourist parks to win back the affections of local travellers.”