The City of Busselton will stand in support of caravan park owners despite other Local Governments competing with privately owned camping grounds by providing free sites for campers during busy holiday periods like Easter.
Shadow tourism minister Libby Mettam MLA said concerns had been raised regarding free camping sites that are near operational or commercial caravan parks.
“The caravan industry is a $19 billion industry across Australia; it is of great value. In Western Australia, over 900,000 people travel across the State engaging in camping,” she said.
“We are seeing free camp sites supported and invested in by local governments such as the Shire of Plantagenet, paid for by ratepayers, and competing directly with small businesses.”
City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley said when accommodation providers were at or near capacity, the local economy thrived and the City would not seek to undermine this by introducing free camping.
“Busselton and Dunsborough have been favourite holiday destinations for Western Australians for many generations, particularly at Easter when booking in advance is necessary,” he said.
“The City feels very strongly that the introduction of free camping into the region would be detrimental to existing providers who pay substantial rates and are a very important segment of our tourism industry,” he said.
Caves Caravan Park manager Jamie Brady said the park was full for only a few nights over Easter, and again over New Year.
“We strongly support the growth of the caravan and camping sector in the South West and find that the City of Busselton provides strong support to the sector,” he said.
“The ever-increasing number of events held by the City and the private sector as well as the State Government’s road trip campaign result in us continuing to see an increased number of people visiting our park and these initiatives help attract campers outside the usual peak periods.”
Camping locations in the Capes region are set to be fully booked over the weekend and Busselton Volunteer Fire and Rescue Lieutenant Mark Box said all campers needed a permit to burn anything.
A bushfire threatened Augusta’s Leeuwin Lighthouse on Thursday with firefighters pointing to illegal campfires as the likely cause.
“Free camping brings a risk of the illegal and unregulated lighting of fires,” Mr Henley said.