Grey nomads taking over Queensland
QUEENSLAND is now at the centre of Australia's $20.4 billion caravan industry, accounting for the biggest fleet of vans and a growing manufacturing base.
Caravanning Queensland chief executive Ron Chapman said the state led the nation in sales of caravans and camper vans, last year buying 8200 of the 31,500 vans sold in Australia. Caravan manufacturing and related trade was now worth $1.1 billion to the state.
"Queensland now boasts the largest fleet of caravans and campervans with 170,812 registered vehicles," said Mr Chapman on the sidelines of last week's Caravan, Camping and Touring Supershow in Brisbane. Nationally almost 30,000 caravans, camper vans and trailers are manufactured annually, with Queensland producing a record 6500 last year.
Victoria-based Jayco remains the market leader but Queensland manufacturers such as Kedron Caravans and Sunland Caravans were catching up. Mr Chapman said the resurgence in the industry was a far cry from the 1990s when caravanning was in the doldrums.
"Up until the 1970s, it was nothing but caravanning," said Mr Chapman. "That was pushed along by the mining boom back then because mining companies did not provide housing to workers so they had to take their caravans out to the mines."
At the peak, the industry was producing more than 37,000 caravans a year but Mr Chapman said a mining downturn, rising oil prices and the penchant for high-rise holidays sent the sector into a long-term decline that was not reversed until the early 2000s. Less than 5000 vans were produced in 1990.
Mr Chapman said the resurgence in the industry was now led by young families and not just retirees, or so-called "grey nomads."
Queensland last year recorded the largest density of caravan registrations in Australia, with eight out of the top 10 postcodes located in Queensland. They were Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Toowoomba, Mackay, Gympie, Gladstone, Maryborough and Caloundra.
"While grey nomads were once the driving force behind the sales of caravans and campervans, the 30 to 54 year market now accounts for 44 per cent of all trips in Queensland," he said.
Mr Chapman said there was now a substantial manufacturing sector based around caravanning in Queensland. Twelve Queensland manufacturers exhibited at the supershow this year, including Kedron Caravans, which has just released a triple-axle deluxe van costing more than $200,000. "Carafans" shelled out an estimated $55 million at the show on new vans.