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Caravan market on a roll

WHILE the building industry has been doing it tough since the introduction of the GST, the same cannot be said for the caravan industry, with sales forecast to grow by about 12 per cent over the year to June.

Coromal Caravans market-ing manager Richard Raven expects the growth to be closer to 20 per cent for the year and continuing indefinitely – this after caravan manufacturing has already doubled over the past four years.

Even the increase in fuel prices has not dampened the dream for many Australians to travel Australia.

Two weeks ago, at the caravan show in Adelaide, Coromal had the biggest show ever. The same is expected this weekend at the Perth caravan show. Mr Raven expects about 50 sales over the weekend.

The caravan industry is working together to promote the lifestyle that caravanning offers.

Mr Raven said it was important to continually devel-op new designs and technics in order to stay ahead of the competitors.

Coromal has moved a long way since its humble beginnings on Scarborough Beach Road in 1977 producing about 35 vans a year. Today the company employs about 95 staff and produces about 25 caravans a week, making it Australia’s second largest manufacturer.

However, the company still controls only about 12 per cent of the market based on last year’s total new caravan sales of 10,600. The industry is still highly fragmented with about 50 manufactures operating throughout Australia.

According to Mr Raven, many of these can be expected to go by the wayside with only the biggest manufacturers surviving.

Coromal are different from most other manufacturers because they produce all the products that go into the vans themselves

Two years ago the company was bought by the Fleetwood Corporation, which also controls Western Portables, Fleetwood Parks, Fleetwood Homes, Flexiglass, Camec, Hertz Campervans and Fleetwood Coromal.

In August, Coromal plans to relocate to larger premises south of the river which will be purpose built and enable the firm to produce up to 35 vans a week.

Television is also playing its part in encouraging people to get out and travel, according to Mr Raven. He said the growth in lifestyle shows such as Getaway and Postcards encouraged people to do things.

While the traditional market has been those over 50, a growing number of 30 to 40 year olds are also looking to take the family out on trips.

Problems in countries that were popular holiday des-tinations for Aussies, like Indonesia and Fiji, have also helped the industry with many deciding to travel domestically.

Tourism figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistic underline the strength of the industry and the changing nature of caravan parks which are often moving toward providing resort accommoda-tion.

While the total number of caravan sites and on-site vans declined over the past three years, the number of cabins available increased 37 per cent to 23,942.

These changes in the nature of caravan parks are reflected in an increase in takings over the three-year period of 28 per cent to $154.9 million.

The Caravan Camping and Park Home Show will be held from March 15-19 at Sir James Mitchell Park, South Perth.

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