New ‘glamping’ websites on the horizon as SA pitches for larger share of booming tenting and caravan market

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Demand for eco-camping and caravanning is not waning in South Australia as two new sites are set to be developed in Port MacDonnell and Penola.

Core items:

  • Glamping is growing in popularity across regional South Australia
  • Two new glamping sites are being developed in Penola and Port MacDonnell
  • A younger demographic is increasingly devoted to camping and caravanning

A holiday park operator in the South East says the popularity of eco-tenting and ‘glamping’ has increased across the region, with two new sites to be developed in Port MacDonnell and Penola.

About 90 percent of the caravanning and camping activity takes place in the regions, with the industry generating approximately $689 million annually, giving the regional areas a significant financial boost.

Steven Moignard, owner of Coonawarra Bush Holiday Park, said he installed 20 eco-tents at his site in 2015 and was growing about 25 percent each year prior to the pandemic.

Now, following a grant from the Department for Environment and Water, Mr Moignard plans to set up a further 20 tents at a new site in Dingley Dell, near Port MacDonnell.

Mr Moignard says the ‘glamping’ experience is popular because visitors can enjoy camping without sacrificing their comfort.

“Equipping them with heating, air conditioning, electric blankets, kettles, fireplaces and outdoor picnic tables allows people to have a camping experience without really knowing anything about camping or pitching a tent,” he said.

Coonawarra Bush holiday park operator Steven Moignard is looking to expand following the success of his current glamping site. (delivered)

“There is less risk than camping alone where you get wiped out by wind or rain and you don’t have fun.

But not only newcomers to camping tend to go glamping.

“We get a lot of experienced campers and people with caravans who come and stay in the glamping sites because they don’t have to unpack,” said Mr Moignard.

“It’s just practical and it’s a bit different.

“You can see the sky, the birds wake you up. You feel a little bit closer to nature.”

Less capital investment

Mr Moignard said glamping tents are also cheaper to install compared to traditional accommodation.

“They cost us about five to ten grand to set up…compared to the $80,000 to $90,000 to build a booth.

“You get a couple of years of life from each and you might only need to replace the canvas every two years, you can keep the rest.”

He says these eco tents are also more environmentally friendly.

“Cabins are not really removable. Once you set them up, they’re pretty permanent.

“While the glamping tents let you move, if you decide to move them, you can restore the environment to its original state.”

booming industry

Fiona Williams, chief executive of SA Parks, said camping and caravanning have seen a huge boom in recent years, with holidaymakers spending 4.6 million nights camping last year.

She said camping and caravanning are now the top choice for overnight trips in South Australia as the industry sees a shift towards a younger demographic.

“People think of caravans and camping and they think of gray nomads, but what we find is that the largest number of trips is actually the 30 to 44 market.”

Ms Williams said COVID has increased the popularity of travel between and within states to the regions as large numbers of people stayed at trailer and camping parks.

“Last year we had 1.3 million caravan and motorhome trips in South Australia for the first time,” she said.

Glamping tents are cheaper to install than traditional huts and have a smaller ecological footprint on the landscape (delivered)

“It’s a huge market and contributes a lot to the local visitor economy in South Australia.”

Ms Williams said the caravanning and camping industry has remained consistently strong following the COVID border closures and continues to grow.

“What we saw during COVID was obviously a tremendous demand to travel to regions and use trailer parks and trailer and camping products,” she said.

“What we have seen in the past is that the caravan park sector has been quite resilient even through previous economic and social shocks.”

“I think it’s because there’s a whole range of different options and price points within a park.”

Ms Williams believes glamping’s popularity will continue to grow as it represents a ‘romantic’ introduction to caravanning and camping and the ‘big outdoors’.

“It’s a way of experiencing nature without sacrificing the little luxuries that one likes to have on vacation.”