Tourism economy transfers to the road

In Australian Domestic Tourism, Community, Harmonisation, Momentum, Tourism Routes, Transport

One major beneficiary of the COVID tourism economy’s evolution is the renovation businesses that convert vans into camper vans, as young people find ways to stay on the road.

COVID-19 travel restrictions see travellers turn to van life

From, 29th September 2020
Vroom with a view: Young travellers swap overseas travel for van life(Anthony Scully And Christine Sheridan)

In backyards, garages and workshops, young people are using their holiday savings to do up second hand vans so they can get out and travel.

Lake Macquarie electrician and cabinet maker Cam Johnson, who operates a small business converting vans, said he had been inundated with work over the past few weeks.

“I think everyone had the same idea,” Mr Johnson said.

“They had money saved up to go overseas and since that’s no longer an option, they’re putting that money into doing up a van instead.

“It’s been pretty hectic — the number of people who drop in has just doubled and I’m actually booked out until February next year.”

A man sits inside a van that has been fitted out for sleeping cooking and travelling.
Cam Johnson inside a van he’s fitting out for travellers opting for intrastate travel.(ABC Newcastle: Anthony Scully)

Mr Johnson said he often saw young couples in their 20s walking through the door of his business, but many retirees were also interested.

“Travelling in a van is a lot more raw,” Mr Johnson said.

A man sitting in the back of his renovated van decked out for holidays away.
Josh Simpson was supposed to get married last weekend and was meant to be in Fiji this week for the honeymoon.(ABC Newcastle: Anthony Scully)

Honeymooners on the road

Lambton resident Josh Simpson, 29, has spent countless hours fitting out his van.

“There’s been a lot of time staring at four walls, like everyone else,” Mr Simpson said.

He said travelling the state had been a welcome break from being stuck at home.

“My fiancee and I were supposed to get married last weekend, and were supposed to be in Fiji as of a couple of days from now,” Mr Simpson said.

“So that’s been a bit of a doozy.”

Close up of printed photos with a man and a woman with handwritten captions.
The inside of Josh Simpson’s van is plastered with photos of memories from the road.(ABC Newcastle: Anthony Scully)

‘We wanted to give it a go’

Newcastle local Kiahni Abell, 23, also had her travel plans cancelled this year.

Ms Abell was set to travel to Thailand with her partner but the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to that.

Instead the pair were focussing on hitting the road once their van was complete.

Close up of a woman in sunglasses driving in her van.
Kiahni Abell (right) shows the progress of her van renovation project to ABC reporter Christine Sheridan.(ABC Newcastle: Anthony Scully)

“A few people we knew had a van so we wanted to give it a go,” Ms Abell said.

“We’ve even had a few friends ask if they could borrow our van.

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