15 years of visits: Why this couple keeps coming to Bundy
TRAVELLERS are driving more than caravans - they're helping drive a healthy rise in tourism across the region.
Bundaberg Tourism general manager Katherine Reid said grey nomads were to thank for the promising economic injection.
"New research shows if the over-55s market was its own economy, it would be the third largest economy globally behind the US and China,” she said.
"This high spending sector travel outside peak periods and are a trillion-dollar economy globally.”
Bundaberg is the perfect destination for senior travellers, with the region offering the Southern Great Barrier Reef, a mouth-watering selection of food and drink and plenty of resources for tourists.
"Local infrastructure such as accessible shopping centres, car parking, walking paths and public facilities are also important influencers when choosing a holiday destination.
"Tourism is a strong contributor to our region, with the industry injecting $463million of visitor expenditure into the Bundaberg Region economy in 2018.
"Grey nomads are the new Millennials.”
Husband and wife Ian and Pearl Biggs have been travelling from their New South Wales home to Bargara Caravan Park annually for the last 15 years.
"We were travelling and met people in Longreach, from Bundaberg and we decided to stop off at Bundaberg to see them before going home,” Mr Biggs said.
"We really liked the place and we drove to Bargara and thought it was really beautiful, so we booked in at the caravan park the following year.”
Little did the Biggses know that what started as an unplanned stopover would lead to an ongoing tradition.
"That few weeks stay just gradually extended,” Mrs Biggs said.
"We booked in for four and then Ian got sick, so we stayed here for 11 and, ever since, we've stayed for 14 weeks at a time.”
The couple say while the sunshine and weather is a contributing factor, the park owners and their efforts are what keep bringing the regulars back to the area.
"The numbers here at the park have really grown over the last couple of years, since Ray and Maureen took over,” they said.
"They have really improved the park, they work hard to keep the gardens and lawns up to scratch and they organise entertainment on a regular basis, so this gets passed on through word of mouth and everyone just keeps coming back.
"They organise singers - country and western or '50s and '60s, all the music that us grey nomads love and appreciate.”
Bargara Beach Caravan Park owner Ray Timperley says the pet-friendly park is always trying to provide visitors with the best experience.
"The entertainment board changes all the time - we have food vans, music, board games, sewing, line dancing and we organise courtesy buses to the golf club,” Mr Timperley said.
"By offering so many activities, they definitely end up staying longer, because there's just so much to do.
"At the moment we have 630 people and that will increase again during school holidays.
"We really love it when they keep coming back - it's just like a big family.”