A tale of two caravan parks: friendship, community and the freedom thing

Publisher:
College of Tourism and Hotel Management
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Tourism Today, 2007, 7 pp. 7 - 28
Issue Date:
2007-01
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This paper presents the findings of a research project that explored notions of friendship and community in the context of caravan park holidays for repeat visitors to two caravan parks. The study was conducted by way of in-depth interview with 22 visitors to a caravan park on the south coast of News South Wales (Australia) in 2006 and 20 visitors to a caravan park in far north Queensland (Australia) in 2007. For both parks the findings indicate that the major attractions of caravan park holidays for long term repeat visitors are the friendships that build up over years of repeat visitation, and the relaxing lifestyle that the holiday affords. For the older and smaller of the parks the respondents also reported that a strong sense of community existed among the visitors and that this was a very satisfying feature of their holiday experience. There was less mention of a sense of community from respondents at the larger and more recently established park. Theoretical implications: there is an emerging literature documenting the possibilities of serious leisure and focal leisure activities as significant investment channels in the accumulation of social capital. This paper supports the theory that focal leisure activities can foster the development of a sense of community, however, our findings indicate that factors influencing this growth may include the age of the group and also the size of the group. Management and marketing implications: caravan park (and other tourist service) organisations may benefit from including notions of friendship and community in their marketing campaigns rather than the usual narrow focus upon facilities From a management perspective it may be useful to consider programming activities and providing amenities that facilitate social engagement and communal activity.
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