Time to Roam Magazine Issue 9 - June/July 2014 - Page 12

| upfront news Stuart Lamont COMMENT: CRUNCH TIME FOR NEW INDUSTRY BODY The merger of Australia’s CRVA and RVMA is something of a challenging marriage, bringing together the diverse interests of manufacturers and accommodation providers. It is however a marriage of necessity. Most in the industry realise they are making a massive contribution to the Australian economy, but haven’t always received the deserved level of recognition from Government. to become the CIAA from July 12. Mr Lamont, who formerly headed the CRVA, says the new organisation faces a similar challenge in getting more RV builders to sign up to its accreditation scheme. The RVMA failed to win support from many companies including, the country’s biggest manufacturer Jayco. “We’d like to model ourselves on the RVIA in America where some 97-98 per cent of the manufactured product is subject to a compliance check and it is certified by government endorsement.” Mr Lamont supported comments by SA Parks chief Richard Davis that regulations placed on private tourist parks should also apply to socalled free camping providers. “We don’t want to force people to stay in parks, we just want consumers to have a choice, what we are concerned about is the declining number of spaces available, businesses are being regulated out of existence,” Mr Lamont said. “Parks have no choice but to pass costs on to consumers.” “What we’re interested in is the opening up of more sites and making caravan parks more competitive by influencing the regulatory environment so they can exist within the tourism mix,” he said However, Mr Lamont cautions about a complete deregulatory approach, saying most of the rules are there to protect consumers. “People are always looking for the best deal, but if you have no regulation you have a quasi anarchy structure and I’m sure that’s not what consumers want.” As CEO Stuart Lamont concedes, the new body also faces big challenges in getting more businesses in both sectors to come on board and sign up to its accreditation schemes. It’s an organisation with huge potential and its success will ultimately be determined by its leadership. Having capably led the CRVA since 2001, Mr Lamont is a good choice as CEO, but he has a big job ahead of him. The crucial test will be how the CIAA selects its new board, a process due to take place later in the year. Australia’s most successful organisations are headed by boards made up of people offering diversity and a good range of skills and experience. The CIAA is a large, wealthy industry organisation. A lot of its wealth comes from small business members who pay big money to show off their wares at caravan and camping shows around the country. Members have every right to question whether or not they get value for money. We certainly hear a lot of complaints and gripes “off the record” about constant rising prices paid for space at shows. Exhibitors say they are too afraid to speak publicly for fear of being relegated to a back block at the next caravan show. I have to admit our own experience as a new small business entering the industry wasn’t entirely positive to begin with. Let me give you just one example. As a media business publishing a magazine going out to more than 600 tourist parks around Australia, we’re very keen to promote those that are leading the way with great services and innovation. For that reason, we were slightly taken aback (to put it mildly) when we were declined an invitation to attend the NSW CCIA’s annual awards night. When challenged as to why we couldn’t attend, I was told media were not invited to the “NSW Awards of Excellence”. I wondered, what’s the point was in recognising excellence but not taking up the chance to promote it as far and wide as possible? Our more recent interactions with the NSW CCIA have been more positive, but at the end of the day, members have every right to expect a proper examination of the bodies they pay to have represent them. As a media organisation, it is our job to do that. Now is the crucial time for Australia’s caravan, RV and recreational tourism industry to join and get involved in their new-look peak lobby group and have their say to make the CIAA as successful as it can be. At Time to Roam, we will certainly do our best to keep you informed. Rod Bruem - Editor Recognising high achievers Michael Cusack 12 timetoroam.com.au