Short breaks and road trips could soon be the flavour of the week, according to the head of one of Australia’s leading road travel experience apps.
Former Tourism Australia chief marketing officer Nick Baker is the chief executive of CamperMate, a caravan and camping app used by almost two million travellers in Australia and New Zealand.
Off the back of the release of some good news for the caravan and camping sector post-COVID-19 pandemic, Baker said he is seeing a big uptick in on-the-road traveller interest.
CamperMate has seen a surge in users over May, welcoming compound growth of at least 140 per cent each week, with the app downloaded by 5,000 users last week.
Baker said this is exciting news and a real-life indicator for more positive times ahead for tourism businesses, regional centres and cities ready to welcome people back.
“This is a fraction of what we usually see when tourism is fully firing,” he said.
“But the current triple-digit growth rate in users of the app is very clear to us and demonstrates there are genuine green shoots in the road back for tourism.”
The increase in recent users also indicates travellers are planning to embrace road trips ahead of the Queen’s birthday long weekend in June, and into the July winter breaks for schools, Baker said.
Moreover, it’s an exciting prospect for regional visitor hot spots as well, off the back of the NSW government’s easing of intrastate travel restrictions, measures shared by South Australia where travellers can now visit caravan parks and campgrounds.
Baker said the numbers paint a realistic picture of how and when people will embrace the chance to travel again, based on recent examples immediately after the Australian bushfires.
He said in the few short weeks during February, between when the bushfires came under control and the onset of COVID-19, CamperMate data showed many Australians were quickly driving back into and through regional areas.
Travellers also over-prolonged their stay in many places against trend – a sign Baker anticipates could be repeated based on the anticipated pent up demand for local travel in a COVID-safe economy.
“At CamperMate, we predict this will again become the case as authorities make clear further easings of restrictions and encouragement of initially local and intrastate travel,” he said.
It comes as research from Tourism Research Australia showed more than 500,000 travellers have indicated they would take a camping trip within the next two months, contributing an average of $584 per trip to regional tourism.
According to the Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA), this has the potential to kick-start the recovery for tourism and inject over $292 million dollars directly into the hands of regional tourism operators who rely on caravanners and campers.
Featured image: iStock/franckreporter