Caravan park phones are ringing across country Victoria, as rural holiday-makers finalise their travel plans under the Third Step of the State’s Coronavirus Roadmap for Regional Victoria.
What’s more, Regional Victorians are arriving ahead of the school holidays with eligible parks welcoming guests as early as last Thursday.
“Some regional guests who have been working from home may even continue to do so as most parks have great internet connections,” says Scott Parker, CEO for VicParks.
“Travellers and off-roaders are keen to get away.”
VICPARKS PRESENT AS NEWS UNFOLDED
“As it happened [Tuesday’s announcement], we had 167 caravan parks attending a mini-conference starting at 11am just as we were hearing the news,” says Scott.
“Throughout the next two hours, their phones were constantly ringing.”
The group had an inkling Regional Victoria would progress to the Third Step this week. It was extremely topical, says Scott, there was lots of discussion.
“It was great to be with so many members and help them field their initial enquiries.
“A number of park operators told us that their phones had been ringing pretty solidly ever since.”
Regional Victorian holiday parks like Swan Reach Holiday Park are again able to welcome Regional Victorian holiday-makers.
HOW CAMPING LOOKS IN THE THIRD STEP (REGIONAL VICTORIA)
Scott says that in the Third Step, Regional Victorians can mingle amongst household members within their nominated ‘bubble’ in Regional Victoria.
Regional travellers can use amenities like toilets, outdoor playgrounds, showers, laundries, camp kitchens and swimming pools meeting the State Health requirements addressed in the holiday park’s COVID-19 safety plan.
“Park operators will still need to regularly clean and disinfect surfaces in all amenities,” Scott explains.
Guests may need to book some facilities to help holiday parks meet State Health requirements, per a Victorian Government recommendation.
“That process could be as simple as recording it with a pen on paper,” Scott explains.
Holiday parks within Regional Victoria can also serve dine-in and take-away meals covered under other industry areas in Third Step of the Coronavirus Roadmap for Regional Victoria.
But bans on games rooms, indoor gyms and indoor play areas remain in place.
GOVERNMENT “MORE ORGANISED”
Scott believes eligible holiday-makers can now stay at Regional Victorian caravan parks thanks in part to VicPark’s advocacy and fewer-than-expected COVID-19 cases.
Following industry discussions, the Victorian Government adjusted its thresholds for caravan parks in Regional Victoria, and provided more notice and clarity regarding exclusions and rulings than previously.
But holiday parks played a part, too, with many designing detailed COVIDSafe plans proving the industry’s capacity to uphold traveller safety.
“Government has provided a day’s notice of their re-opening requirements of operators and those requirements are much clearer than they were when parks re-opened the first time.
“We are just working through how best to support our members who now need to have a COVIDSafe plan in place by 28 September.”
“FABULOUS NEWS” FOR REGIONAL VICTORIA
Scott welcomes the Victoria Government’s decision to adjust thresholds and bring forward Step Three for Regional Victoria but says that communities are crying out for city travellers, as soon as it’s safe to do so.
“We are pleased the thresholds to opening up Regional Victoria were revisited … [but] the surge in Regional Victorian travellers over the next few days and weeks isn’t sustainable.
“They need the stay at home restrictions in Melbourne to be lifted for really good volumes to start booking.”
Travellers and caravan parks within Metropolitan Melbourne are chafing at the bit.
“We will continue to look closely as numbers for Metropolitan Melbourne come down, and provide feedback to the Victorian Government on how to allow Melburnians to holiday in caravan parks without the risk of infection,” Scott explains.
ENFORCED DOWN-TIME INSPIRES ATTRACTION
Leah Archer, manager for Swan Reach Holiday Park, is feeling positive about welcoming holiday makers from Regional Victoria.
“Our phones have been very busy.”
Leah’s following Government announcements and taking on VicParks’ recommendations. In fact, during the COVID-19 shutdown, Leah and her husband undertook maintenance.
And they also introduced a new attraction for guests.
“We have a new small animal encounter,” Leah explains. “Our park now has two alpacas, sheep and two miniature ponies.
“We researched a lot about how our animals behave in groups and who they are as individuals. The sheep and the ponies will come up to the fence. The alpacas are curious but a bit standoffish.
“We spoke to a lot of the local farmers on how to care for them, provide shelter and what to feed them. Most were orphaned–except for the alpacas, they were a gift from my husband for my birthday.”
“Swan Reach Holiday Park is just a chilled little park, near the Tambo River.
“We have lots of natural bush, lots of room, a little plantation. We’re very family-orientated.”
- Check out Swan Reach Holiday Park
The Swan Reach Holiday Park, a lovely, rural caravan park in the South-East Victorian Gippsland Region undertook repairs and set-up an animal attraction during Stage Three lockdown.