Why aren't we putting out the RV welcome mat?

IT'S no secret our region is struggling. Many people are unemployed and most major industries are finding it difficult to survive.

So if there was an easy answer to help improve our local economy then don't you think it should be explored?

I'm talking about the multi-million dollar RV industry that passes us by because our leaders are hesitant to upset the minority.

Grey nomads inject billions of dollars each year across the country and can someone please tell me why we aren't welcoming them with open arms?

Enough talking about how long they can stay and making sure they spend $10 to be able to park overnight.

Give them the welcome mat and you will see the majority will spend tenfold of the $10 asked.

Yes, you might get a few who don't spend anything but isn't it better to offer them a friendly welcome so that when they are discussing places to Mary and John up the road at their next spot they let them know what a great part of the world we live in?

Now you may ask what makes me an expert on this. Well I'm not an expert but I have done more than 100,000km in my van around this awesome country we live in and I've stayed in some great and not-so great free camps and caravan parks.

When our children were younger we stayed in mainly caravan parks but as they get older we tend to free camp wherever we can. Sometimes when you are on the road it's not always convenient to pull up in a park. You may not get in until 10pm and you are heading off by 6am. Where's the sense in spending money at a park you won't be using? In saying that, whenever we holiday or are going to be in a place for more than a few days we book ourselves in to one of the parks.

One thing we always make sure of is that we spend money when we free camp in a town. Whether that's fuel and a quick bite to eat or dropping by one of the town's stores. This all helps small regions.

You don't have to go far to see how popular these free camps are. Just look at the duck ponds on the outskirts of Gympie. That site is standing room only most nights. But if you do make a pit stop there you will see a majority of vans are unhooked and their owners are out exploring the region.

I know the caravan park owners aren't keen on these free parks as they say it takes away from their bottom line. But what about if they worked in with the free camps? Put up billboards at the free camp and let park owners put up their brochures. If you are planning on staying in a region, then at some point you will most likely need to top up your water tanks and use the dump points.

It's about time these park owners think outside the box. Negativity and poor attitude in business I find breeds exactly that.

I have stayed in many parks where the facilities and amenities leave a lot to be desired. Then on the other hand I have stayed in some parks where I didn't want to leave as they catered for everything I could ever need. Maybe local parks should have a look at what they offer and where they could improve.

I'm going to throw it out there, I think in Maryborough an ideal site would be Prickett Aquatic Area, down near the Lamington Bridge where the circus set up once every year or two.

You have a toilet block already there, picnic tables and with a little tidy up along the banks what better way to showcase our marvellous Mary River?

This area is large enough to hold even the largest of fifth-wheelers, plus, it's on grass.

I ask our councillors what would be more enticing; camping on the banks of the Mary River in lush grass or pulling up on a bitumen carpark overlooking the back of the information centre or police headquarters? Is this any way to treat people who want to spend time and money in our region?

Let's see some action from our leaders. We've had enough talk.