Australian caravan manufacturers have recorded their best sales since the 1970s, with sales of locally-made caravans up 17.1 per cent in 2022 compared with 2021, and an 8.4 per cent rise in imported vans.

Local sales of Australian-made vans hit 28,031 new units in 2022, the Caravan Industry Association said, while imports rose to 20,498.

In addition, exports of locally-made vans soared almost 230 per cent to 9568 units.

The 2022 sales showed the highest sales of local vans since post Cyclone Tracy (1974) while imported products hit a record high.

The CIA attributed the rises to strong domestic demand “for all things caravanning and Australia’s desire to reconnect with our beautiful country.”

The CIA said that “exports also recorded a record 9568 units (up 29.93 per cen from previous year) at year-end December 2022, showcasing the regard for Australian built product which is regarded as some of the toughest in the world.

CIA CEO Stuart Lamont, said: “There is no surprise that Australians continue to invest in industry product, since caravanning and camping remains one of the best value and accessible holiday options, especially for families.”

“Our industry through COVID was able to pivot and mobilise during challenging times, and now that labour and supply chain interruptions have minimised we continue to see strong output particularly from local manufacturers.

“Australia is renowned for producing rugged product suited to our stunning yet unforgiving terrain. With the ability to provide for urban escapism and the new workplace shift towards remote connection, the industry remains well positioned for anticipated strong consumer demand into the future.”

The association said that despite the soaring demand, the industry was not resting on its laurels and continued to look to the future of caravanning and its inner-well of innovation for the next transition of the industry – a low emissions environment and tightening economic conditions.

It said that while global uncertainties and rising inflation continue to dampen consumer confidence more broadly, the caravan and camping industry remains optimistic regarding the future despite the headwinds and looks forward to continuing to build on the $27 billion worth of annual economic value to the Australian economy.

“These most recent figures only further fortify the recreational vehicle manufacturing sector’s position and importance as one of Australia’s largest remaining bastions of automotive manufacturing, a position by which we need to see continued support and partnership for in order to maintain,” said Mr Lamont.

He said that Australia was renowned for producing rugged products “suited to its stunning yet unforgiving terrain.”

“Our industry through COVID was able to pivot and mobilise during challenging times, and now that labour and supply chain interruptions have minimised we continue to see strong outputs,” he said.

The CIA also expressed thanks to the federal government and trade and tourism minister Don Farrell for the grants allocated to 111 Australian caravan parks.

Mr Lamont said that the targeted federal infrastructure support package recognised the growing and critical value of caravanning to Australia's tourism and visitor economy.

“Caravanning has long been Australian domestic tourism's largest visitor and economic cohort, an almost $27 billion economic driver in tourism and local manufacturing activity,” he said.

“This well-targeted funding will go directly into our world leading caravan park product across the nation. We also believe it will extract private capital expenditure support up to three times over.”

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