A university study has found grey nomads are not the big spenders once thought, with another sub-group of grey travellers actually responsible for the bulk of tourism investment in regional economies.
Caravan club members making short trips are Australia’s real tourism dollar spinners according to the Queensland University School of Tourism researchers, Dr Shane Pegg and Associate Professor Ian Patterson.
Dr Pegg said the caravanning spotlight had shone for many years on grey nomads, overlooking the impact of the short-stayers, a sub-group the researchers have now dubbed the “grey caravanners” “I began chatting with them at the Brisbane Caravan and Camping show and it became apparent that they were different from the grey nomads,” Dr Pegg said.
Dr Pegg and Associate Professor Patterson began working on ways to identify grey caravanners and determine what set them apart from the more high-profile grey nomads.
Mr Patterson said the grey caravanners were more focused on short-stay trips including weekends away and were members of a caravan club.
“They generally travel in a group of about 30 caravans for a weekend away,” he said.
“They don’t go far, usually within 200km of their home town, and they try to go somewhere new.
“They have formed very strong social networks, which have been virtually ignored in previous studies, even though this group contributes quite a lot conomically and socially.”
In 2012 alone, he estimates Combined Caravan Clubs of Queensland members contributed nearly $3 million to Queensland rural and remote towns.
Dr Pegg said these caravanners also had a positive social impact on the communities they visited.
“They don’t just arrive, spend money and leave. They connect with the communities and, in turn, the communities get an awful lot back,” he said.