SERIOUS harm is being caused to tourism in Ballarat due to a lack of camping and waste amenities for motorhomes and campervans, as well as difficulty in getting to the Visitor Information Centre, according to a leading recreational vehicle lobby group.
The Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia is spearheading a campaign to establish free dumping points for caravans, campervans and motorhomes to dispose of their waste.
The group is also calling for free camping at Pioneer Park in Wendouree and the relocation of the Ballarat Regional Tourism (BRT) office to a site where large-scale recreational vehicles can park.
The idea of a free dumping point has been raised with the Ballarat City Council for more than two years.
In April last year, councillors voted to undertake further stakeholder consultation on the issue.
In September 2012, the council considered the idea of installing a free public dumping point but resolved not to proceed, citing the advice of BRT which said there was no clear evidence a dumping point would add any benefit to the town.
The council also raised concerns that providing the free service may cause an influx of people camping illegally in public places within the vicinity of the dumping point.
A proposal being tabled this week by the council involves a $4000 12-month trial where existing caravan park operators allow visitors to dispose of their waste at their parks.
If the trial is approved, the council will supply 400 vouchers valued at $10 each which will be given to pay caravan park owners every time their dump point is used by visitors.
CMCA member and Ballarat resident Grant Tillett said he feared tourism in Ballarat was being harmed because it was ignoring the needs of a critical group.
“Ballarat is completely inaccessible as far as a mobile tourists are concerned,” he said.
“Trying to get a park in Lydiard Street is impossible enough let alone trying to find a legal park for a large-scale motorhome.”
Mr Tillett said people who use recreational vehicles were older, retired and often frail tourists who needed to be able to park and readily access the information centre.
“They can’t be expected to park miles away and walk down to the tourist office,” he said.
“What is happening now is that tourists are passing through because they can’t find a place to park at the information centre. There aren’t any places for them to park their large-scale vehicles overnight and there aren’t free services for them to dump their waste so they will say ‘to hell with it’ and move on to the next town.”
Mr Tillett said more than 75 per cent of mobile homes were self-sufficient with bathroom and toilet facilities, but they needed somewhere to dispose of waste.
But Mr Tillett said although the vouchers would be free to the tourists, they were overpriced.
He said rather than slugging ratepayers, council should invest in creating a one-stop dumping point for recreational facilities.
He estimated it would cost the council between $8000 to $10,000 which would be made back in the tourism service it would bring to the town.
“Half the time these large-scale recreational vehicles won’t fit inside caravan parks because of the length and width of them,” he said.
“They need their own dump stop which is catered specifically for this use.”
The search continues for a new location for the BRT centre, as the lease for its current building, at 43 Lydiard Street North, ends in June next year.