As drought ravages Australia, there’s little relief in sight. Tragically, many people have lost their homes, and some even their lives, to horrific bush fires. Farmers are particularly hurt by water shortages, with many losing stock and struggling to keep their farms running.
However, the parched landscape doesn’t just affect farms. Many tourism businesses are also suffering. Sadly, alarming media reports are keeping people away from drought-stricken regions and towns when many are in fact still open for business. As a member of the industry, we want to encourage visitors to support regional tourism during this difficult time and #stayinthebush.
Fighting more than just the dry
We need to run a great tourism campaign to say to everyone come back and support the region.Annastacia Palaszczuk – QLD Premier
Campstay works with caravan parks and campgrounds around Australia. Many of our partners are located in impacted areas and experiencing a downturn as a result. Unfortunately, misinformation is leading to cancellations and people staying home.
State governments have acknowledged the effect drought and bush fires have had on visitor numbers. In September, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said “we need to run a great tourism campaign to say to everyone come back and support the region”.
Thankfully, the community has rallied behind businesses in need. Fantastic campaigns such as buy from the bush help people to purchase from regional shops. This is an amazing program, however, not everyone is aware there is a stay in the bush sister campaign.
Some assume small towns that are short on water are currently closed for business. This is not necessarily the case. There are empty pubs, motels and holiday parks crying out for customers around Australia.
Because people are staying away, tourism and hospitality operators are missing out on essential business when they need it the most.
For many operators, the message they want to share is simple: they are open for business.
Open for business
Any overnight stay is worthwhile – not only to me, but also to other businesses.Carolyn Monkley – Macquarie Caravan Park
Carolyn’s guests sometimes ask whether Warren wants visitors at all during the drought. The answer is a resounding yes. “Any overnight stay is worthwhile – not only to me, but also to other businesses where tourists might fuel up, grab a coffee, beer or a meal or even just some groceries,” she said.
Carolyn’s holiday park is subject to water restrictions. This means she can’t water the grass often, so it isn’t as lush and green as usual. She said she has heard comments “that the place isn’t as green as the website”.
Those travelling to areas suffering from a dry spell need to know vegetation may be a bit brown and dry. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t beautiful places to explore and things to do.
Despite the drought, Warren’s Tiger Bay Wetlands are still home to a variety of native flora and fauna. The Beemunnel Aboriginal cultural site also offers a fascinating glimpse into the past.
In the meantime, Carolyn and other business owners in Warren are keeping their spirits up. “We will do our best and wait for the rain” she said.
Go regional this holiday season
We just want everyone to know that we in the bush are down, but we are not out.Alison Edwards – Austin Tourist Park
If you’re still planning a Christmas holiday, why not go regional? There are plenty of hidden gems to discover. There’s still plenty of accommodation available for the holiday season in many small towns around the country.
Alison Edwards owns Austin Tourist Park in Tamworth, New South Wales. She would love to host you at her caravan park soon. “We just want everyone to know that we in the bush are down, but we are not out,” she said.
“Your support travelling to bush communities, spending some time and money is greatly appreciated, and will help in ways you cannot even imagine.”
Small towns like Tamworth may be off the beaten track, but they are well worth a visit. Tamworth is, of course, famous for its country music roots. Visit the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame, or walk through the Hands of Fame park. Here, over 300 artists have left their palm prints since 1977.
The best part is, prices are much more affordable outside the tourism hot spots. By choosing to holiday in the bush, you’re not just supporting these small communities. You’re also saving money.
How you can help
Book a bush holiday park
If you’d like to stay at the two wonderful holiday parks featured in this article, you can find more information here:
If a long stay isn’t on the cards, that’s ok. An overnight stopover or purchase at local stores in any impacted regional area will help.
If you’ve travelled to an area impacted by drought recently and loved it, we want to hear from you. Share your holiday snaps with us via Instagram or Facebook. Simply tag Campstay. Alternatively, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.