The term “grey nomads” was coined by Catherine Marciniak and Steve Westh in reference to their 1997 documentary of the same name. Their documentary followed a variety of older Australians who had left the mainstream way of life for a more independent and gypsy-like manner of living, a phenomenon which had already captivated thousands of seniors by the time of the film’s release.
Since the 1997 Grey Nomads documentary, Australia’s caravanning industry has been steadily growing and expanding, encompassing a larger fan following and being marketed to younger and younger individuals. The following few paragraphs we'll be going over the current state of the Australian caravan industry.
Demographic Shift & Value of the Australian Dollar
Since the 1997 Grey Nomads documentary, one of the most noticeable differences in the caravan industry is its shift in user demographics. What was once considered mainly a hobby of retired and adventurous seniors has now become popular with younger adults and families.
This shift in demographics has been attributed to the lowered value of the Australian dollar with Stuart Lamont, chief executive of the Caravan Industry Association explaining, “The low dollar is making international travel less attractive.”
Instead of flying to faraway lands, many Australian families are now purchasing caravans and exploring domestic tourist sites as a cheaper travel alternative. In fact, 50% of caravan market shares can be attributed to the family market composed of individuals aged 30-54 years.
This is an interesting cycle. Because more campers are spending their vacation time in Australia, the demographic shift ( which was actually caused by the lowered dollar) will likely have a positive effect on the Australian dollar in the long-term.
According to the Caravan Industry Association of Australia, there has been a 38% increase in RV registrations since 2008 with 90% of the registrations being associated with caravans.
Approximately half of the new RVs purchased in Australia during this time were purchased by individuals looking to make approximately 5-10 caravan trips per year.
Effect on Local Economies
Because many Australians are choosing to explore Australia as opposed to other international locations, local economies across the nation have been experiencing a tremendous boost.
Countless tourist parks have been cropping up in order to accommodate the large, growing number of caravan campers. While the parks themselves ultimately contribute directly to a community’s economy, their greatest contribution is indirect. Caravan parks are a great at educating tourists about local businesses and attractions and, as a result, it’s been said that for every $100 earned by a caravan park, $138 is indirectly generated for its local economy.
Effect on Employment & Personal Earnings
Countless companies have been developed to directly respond to Australia’s growing caravan market. While companies such as Camec Australia have been in business for ages, newer technology disrupters have recently been cropping up alongside them.
It has been reported that the caravanning and camping sector of Australia directly employs over 25,000 employees; however, this number likely does not take into account the large number of people associated with disrupters such as HomeCamp and MyCaravan.