Aussie families will be asked to pay for the first time at over 100 campsites around Victoria. Premium campsites that currently have charges will also gain a significant fee increase.
The first introduction of fees is due to be rolled out in March next year and consequent changes rolled out by 2015. The proposed fee structure will see premium parks that currently charge on average $33 hiked up to an average of $59 per night. And over 100 new campsites that are currently free will require booking fees by 2015.
The decision has come as a result of Parks Victoria struggling to maintain facilities and services due to budget cuts. According to a Victorian park ranger there have been talks for some time of increasing fees, as it was seen as a preferred alternative to site closures.
Understandably a number of members of the 4WD community have reacted to the news stating that camping should be kept accessible to all Australians. When placing the proposed prices in comparison to private Caravan parks, the proposed prices seem high. Concerns arise that it may no longer be affordable for Aussie families to visit some parks, and that this may discourage some families from staying in National Parks altogether. Furthermore, some members are concerned of the "slippery slope" that could lead to further fee increases in the future. DEPI representatives argue that a user-pays model will lead to better maintenance and provision of facilities. They state that the proposed fees are necessary in order to keep parks operating and avoid closures due to lack of maintenance.
Campsites located at Lake Eildon, Wilsons Prom and Mt Buffalo are amongst the premium sites which will see significant fee hikes next year. Fees as high as $90 per night have been reported for group booking sites at Wilson's Prom.
The government have put forward a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) explaining the decision and providing a number of fee structures aimed at increasing revenue and making camping more sustainable into the future. A copy of the RIS can be found here. The public are invited to express their opinions regarding the RIS by contacting the below email prior to 22 of November 2013: