Diesel price hike expected to hurt regional operators as grey nomads tighten belts
By Sourced Externally
March 16, 2022
As hip pockets across Queensland take a hit with diesel price hikes, the state’s tourism industry is bracing for yet another hit in the wake of the pandemic.
Rising diesel prices force grey nomads to re-budget during a peak period for tourism businesses
Regional and remote tourism operators prepare for revenue pain
Travel patterns are expected to change once again after COVID closed borders
Experts have predicted a change in travel patterns during what should be prime time for grey nomad tourists to head north to warmer climates.
Not only will filling up cost more but a hike in supermarket prices as a flow-on effect will add to the cost of living for retired travellers on a budget.
Jill Hammond, who is a month into her trip around the country with her husband David, is just one of many grey nomads forced to reassess plans.
The retiree said fuel prices were the latest setback a month into their year-and-a-half journey after being caught in the Northern NSW floods.
The Sydney couple had been tossing up returning home at the end of April as fuel prices and the flow-on cost to essential supplies affected their budget for diesel.
“My husband worked out all our costs but now because fuel has gone up so much — we filled up the other day at $2.09/litre and the next day it was $2.24/litre for diesel,” Ms Hammond said.
“So obviously that will affect our costs quite a lot.”
Ms Hammond said they hoped to still see everything on their bucket list, but might need to wait until fuel was more affordable.
“Cost of fuel and the war in Ukraine doesn’t help all of this,” she said.
“If it keeps going up and the costs of everything else going up … we’ll just have to work it out and see how it affects us.
“We might have to stay longer in certain areas.”
Planning is key to winter season
Queensland’s Caravan Parks Association general manager Michelle Western said there were still good indications the winter would be strong, but travellers would likely be more planned in their approach.
“Instead of going from town to town and spending one night in each town they may try to stop and stay in a town for a little bit longer,” Ms Western said.
“We suspect they will watch the petrol prices and they will try to manage those ups and downs that we do see at those petrol stations.”
After enduring rolling lockdowns over the past two years, Ms Western said there was a strong appetite to travel north.
She said research had shown that high fuel prices would not necessarily have a significant impact on overall travel costs.
“Data from a KPMG study revealed that a fuel price rise of 20 cents per litre may only add about 2 per cent to the overall cost of your touring holiday, so in the scheme of a winter away it is probably not going to make a significant difference,” Ms Western said.
Brisbane retirees Bruce and Kerri Dennett prefer to take shorter trips into regional Queensland with their caravan.
“We believe we’ll still travel but we’ll probably be more conscious of the weather… if it’s really blowy your fuel prices will go up if you’re driving into the wind and things like that,” Mr Dennett said.
“I think what we might do is go to certain places and stay a little bit longer but do longer day trips maybe so we aren’t towing everywhere you go … That’s something we have tossed up.”
Ms Dennett said she thought hospitality businesses might miss out as eating-out budgets were spent on fuel instead.
“We always try to support wherever we visit, you know have a meal at the local pub … but you might pack a lunch for a day trip instead to try and conserve,” she said.
Outback tourism to bear the brunt
Further north, the operator of one of the state’s most remote holiday destinations said rising fuel prices could hurt outback tourism.
Owner-operator of Cobbold Gorge, about 400 kilometres south-west of Cairns, Simon Terry said the high cost of filling up could make some self-drive tourists reconsider how far they ventured into the outback.
“If they’re coming from Victoria or further west then it’s definitely going to have a major impact on their budget, on their holiday, how far they can drive, and what spare money they can spend on their holiday,” Mr Terry said.
“It’s going to affect their trip duration or their time spent on the road.
Mr Terry said the sharp increase in fuel prices was already being felt in his daily business operation, which would impact his bottom line during the winter tourism season.
“There’s been quite a big hike, as most people would know, on the supermarket shelves where the price of food has gone up,” he said.
“We’re noticing the increases in freight prices too, with some freight companies already passing on a fuel surcharge on top of their usual pricing.
“It’s a bit hard to pass the costs on as our prices for the season are locked in and most people forward book by several months, so we’ve just got to hope that it’ll settle down soon and get back to some normality.”