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REVEALED: How much grey nomads are spending in town

SPENDING LOCALLY: John and Sandra Bewell from Harrington at the Doon Villa Football Club RV parking area in Maryborough.
SPENDING LOCALLY: John and Sandra Bewell from Harrington at the Doon Villa Football Club RV parking area in Maryborough. Alistair Brightman

IN JUST four days, RV travellers John and Sandra Bewell injected more than $1200 into Maryborough.

Precious dollars which would have rolled on by had the Heritage City not embraced its RV friendly status.

A case study of the Doon Villa Football Club stop-over near the Maryborough airport shows an estimated $76,700 plus was spent by its guests in May alone.

That's just one of three sites across the Fraser Coast.

At Doon Villa, 87 vans stopped in for an average of three nights.

On Thursday, May 25, a spot check at 4pm of nine vans revealed $2,476.15 had been spent at local businesses including bottle shops, chemists, laundrys, mechanics, plumbing suppliers, supermarkets, coffee shops and restaurants.

Of the travellers surveyed throughout May, 91% said they would not have stopped in the area if it wasn't RV friendly.

This includes the Bewells who told the Chronicle they would have bypassed the region if it hadn't been suggested on a popular RV website.

Instead, they spent four nights at the Doon Villa site, replaced four tyres at a local service centre, and stocked up on groceries and fuel.

The highlight of their trip was a walking tour of the wharf precinct.

"The site where we stayed was spotlessly clean and the manager could not have been more friendly or helpful," Mrs Bewell said.

"It is a lovely place to stay, we would definitely recommend it."

Glenn Barsby, who manages the Doon Villa Football Club RV Park lease, was originally sceptical about just how much money was to be made by rolling out the welcome mat to grey nomads but now, he's a passionate RV advocate.

"Until we opened Doon Villa and started doing surveys I didn't understand how much money was being spent," Mr Barsby said.

"In the first 45 days we calculated more than $123,000 had been spent and 85% of those people said they would not have come to Maryborough had we not had the low-cost RV option.

"That equates to more than $105,000 pumped into Maryborough in 45 days and in the next week the spending was even stronger.

"Two RVs saw Doon Villa on Wikicamps and came in, then spent more than $4000 in two days on an upgraded suspension, deep cycle battery and other costs."

Despite the welcome dollars, Maryborough's RV friendly status remains unpopular in some corners of the region, particularly among caravan park owners who feel free and discounting parking is chipping away at their businesses.

But Mr Barsby said 88% of travellers surveyed in May said they did not frequent caravan parks as their RV was totally self-sufficient.

A further 34% of RVs were classed as Big Rig/Bus 10m plus which Mr Barsby said meant they could not stay at caravan parks or would "find it extremely difficult to fit into the allotted space".

He said site managers remained vigilant in ensuring only self-sufficient travellers were allowed to take advantage of the approved spaces.

Last month, he moved on three backpacker car-based campers and four non-compliant RVs.

Topics:  grey nomads rv


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