Poor infrastructure hurts regional tourism
POOR internet and mobile phone coverage in regional areas is proving a turn-off not only for grey nomads in caravans and RV's but tech savvy families on camping holidays.
Caravan Industry Association of Australia chair Grant Wilckens said private companies are investing significantly in regional playgrounds, waterparks and cabins but this needs to be matched by public spending on infrastructure.
"Regional areas have the poorest access to internet, mobile phone coverage and the worst roads," he said.
"Businesses have to contend with very high power and water costs.
"The NBN promised much but has yet to deliver in many cases, leaving regional businesses to install their own telecommunications networks at a considerable cost."
He said while the Federal Budget allocated $24.5 billion over 10 years for regional roads, rail and bridges, calls for greater connectivity remain unanswered.
The caravan and camping industry is now worth $20 billion to the Australian economy.
Australian Trade and Investment Commission research shows growing demand for Australia's distinctive experiences in regional areas, with 63 per cent of domestic overnight visitors and 36 per cent of international visitors travelling beyond cities in the 2017 financial year.
"Caravanning and camping is big business in regional areas, providing employment and a considerable injection of cash into the local economy.
"If we are to truly meet the needs of travellers we'll need to harness internet technology that enables them to translate and truly experience regional areas.
"This is particularly important to meet the needs of Chinese travellers, a valuable segment which spends considerably more per day than other tourists.
"Many of them rely on their smart phones to translate so it makes sense they have access to WiFi services when they are travelling.
"Regional tourism businesses are keen to invest in innovative digital technologies to enhance the customer experience but what's the point if there is poor connectivity and visitors are too nervous to travel on the roads."