Retailers lukewarm on worth of van owners

The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association is worth about $320,000 to the Murchison community in a typical year, a report says.

The report, commissioned by the association and conducted by marketing research agency Q & A early last year, said a vehicle at the Murchison NZMCA Park spent an average of $152 per visit, and $117 per day.

The park offers a space for NZMCA members, largely self-sufficient, to park when visiting the region.

NZMCA vice-president Peter Gordon, who lives in Motueka, said according to the park’s logbook, the park attracted more than 2110 NZMCA vans during the 12 months preceding the study, meaning the total annual income generated from members would be about $320,000.

The park opened in 2008, and Gordon said the organisation had recently had to double its size due to the popularity. Such spending made a big difference in a town like Murchison, he said.

‘‘I think the Tasman District Council and the Nelson District Council do extremely well out of the NZMCA.’’

The report also said in  a one-month period during peak summer season, visitors to the NZMCA park spent a total of $55,000. Most of this went on petrol and fuel, with food and groceries coming second, and then eating out at cafes, restaurants and takeaways. The average length of stay was 1.3 nights

The report was based on 405 interviews – 363 NZMCA members, 33 Murchison retailers, and nine neighbours of the NZMCA park.

Neighbours and local businesses had either been positive or neutral about the park, with some saying the park provided free advertising for the town, and others concerned at the perceived low spend by NZMCA members, who were also perceived to be highly price-sensitive.

But Murchison business owners were doubtful that the economic gains in the report were accurate.

Four Square owner Amy Baker said she did not think the NZMCA members made a huge contribution to the town, particularly compared to foreign tourists.

‘‘We get the odd one, but we don’t see the huge increase in turnover.’’

The $320,000 figure was a bit of a stretch, she said, adding the typical NZMCA member was retired and so was careful with their money and largely self-sufficient.

Rivers Cafe owner Jude Alfield said she would not say the NZMCA guests brought a lot to the town, and her business got very little out of them.

‘‘Because they are set up and quite self-sufficient they don’t actually spend that much money. Say they are here for a week they might frequent once or twice.

‘‘Any little bit is great, but I honestly and truly don’t think it’s making a huge difference.’’

Murchison Mobil owner Allane Peacock said he was surprised by the number, but it made sense given the number who stayed at the park. Many would buy gas, fuel or LPG from his business.

The NZMCA members were very welcome in the town, he said.

‘‘They don’t cause any problems, we see them in town and buying icecreams and stuff, just like anyone else on holiday.’’

The Nelson Mail