Doctorate researcher Kathy Marles from Griffith University’s Department of Tourism, Leisure, Hotel and Sport Management said emotional factors associated with family rituals play a key role in the repeat visitations.
“Often a particular place brings back childhood holiday memories of a time when things were simpler and more relaxed,” Dr Marles said.
“For these families the annual Christmas caravan park holiday is a gathering of the clan at a place of special significance, somewhat akin to a pilgrimage to a sacred site.”
Dr Marles said she met families during her research where 4-5 generations have been gathering at the same caravan park for more than 50 years to celebrate Christmas.
“Families regard their particular site as their own little piece of paradise. In one case, an extended family of over 100 members regularly books more than 15 sites together, taking up 10-15 per cent of the caravan park,” she said.
“Families have also been known to spread the ashes of relatives on the land or river of a caravan park.”
Dr Marles welcomed a recent tourism plan issued by the Queensland government that pledged to explore ways to retain caravan park accommodation throughout the state – particularly along the coastal corridor.
“As caravan parks occupy prime real estate, there is pressure to sell them off to cash in on soaring land prices,” she said.
“The state’s move would help to protect this annual holiday ritual from the pressures created by a growing population. It would also preserve the lifestyle of the growing number of ‘grey nomads’ who spend their retirement years on caravan holidays.”
Dr Marles studied repeat visitations across caravan parks in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales for her doctorate degree with Griffith University.
She will receive her PhD at a graduation ceremony for Gold Coast graduating students on December 11 at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Dr Marles can be contacted for interview on 07 5552 8359 or 0411 035 440.