Baby boomers make happy campers

Image: Flickr / wildxplorer

Sleeping under the stars is a hobby shared by many baby boomers. Now, this demographic’s love of camping is driving an increase in domestic travel, as Kahla Preston reports. 

The latest National Visitor Survey showed camping as a strong contributor to a rise in domestic travel. With baby boomers approaching retirement, the camping sector looks set to grow even further.


REPORTER: Camping has contributed to a surge in domestic travel in Australia, at a time when the strong dollar is encouraging many locals to head abroad. The National Visitor Survey, released in September, shows the use of free caravan and camping sites for overnight stays in Australia jumped 16% in the last year.

LYNDEL GREY, CEO, CARAVAN & CAMPING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION NSW: It’s an under-recognised area of the tourism industry. I think when people think of tourism they always think of the glitzy resorts or the hotels or whatever, but it’s the caravanning and camping sector that’s driving a lot of the growth.

REPORTER: Lyndel Gray says the baby boomers in particular are embracing this style of travel.

LYNDEL GRAY: We’re going to find, I think, with retirees, that we’re looking at a whole generation that are not going to age the same way their parents did – they’re going to be active, they’re going to get out there and they’re going to do, and they’re going to see, and they’re going to experience, and that’s where I think caravanning and camping has enormous opportunity to further grow.

REPORTER: The rise of the grey nomads was evident in this year’s Census, which revealed that the number of registered campervans has increased by over 20% since 2007.
Travel Wheels, an Australian campervan rental and sales company, has witnessed a similar increase.

SHAUN PERRETT, OWNER, TRAVEL WHEELS: Over the last 3 years, the increase in actual renting of campervans has been almost 50% from where we were. Sales of campervans have gone up around 8%.

REPORTER: The majority of their Australian customers fall into the 45-65 year age bracket. They enjoy the independence of campervan travel.

SHAUN PERRETT: It just gives them the flexibility and there’s no ties, no reason to really stay in one place. I think they’re cashed-up, they’re cash rich and they’re ready to go. In the later years of retirement, travel is by far a preferred option.

REPORTER: Paul Tapp has been camping since his university days, in both tents and caravans. This year, he and wife Louise have camped in Kangaroo Island and Cape York.

PAUL TAPP, ‘GREY NOMAD’: We enjoy getting out; enjoying the bush, the serenity that’s there, the natural beauty that’s available; and you can only get that by getting out to those locations.

REPORTER: Although it’s an economical way to travel, Paul warns that without careful planning, the cost of camping in Australia can be more than expected.

PAUL TAPP: We were a little bit surprised after our last holiday, when we just sat down and worked out that it’s still around about 800-1000 [dollars] a week. You could do it a little bit cheaper, but not much cheaper.

REPORTER: This is Kahla Preston reporting for Baby Zoomers.

Interested in camping? Check out the South Coast Caravan, Camping & Holiday Expo on November 4!


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