Fantastic article in the Canberra Times after last week’s official opening of the park.
New group accommodation centre, Canberra Park Resort, opens next to Exhibition Park
By Katie Burgess
Updated13 April 2017 — 1:46pm first published at 10:49am
Canberra just stepped up its game as Australia’s school excursion capital.
A new $20 million group accommodation centre, Canberra Park Resort, has opened next to Exhibition Park, with beds for up to 480 students, teachers, supervisors or bus drivers.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said more than 160,000 school students visited Canberra every year, bringing more than $100 million into the territory’s economy.
“[Growing student tourism] is part of our overall goal to get tourism up to a $2.5 billion dollar annual contribution by 2020. It’s currently sitting at over $2 billion at the moment so we’re on track to achieve that target and if our tourism numbers continue to grow at the rate they have over the past four years then we’re going to need more of this sort of investment in our economy,” Mr Barr said.
The land, on the corner of the Federal Highway and Old Wells Station Drive, is owned by the ACT government but leased to developers Free Spirit Investments.
One of the company directors, Nick Collishaw, said Canberra Park Resort would plug a huge hole in the ACT’s affordable group accommodation market.
“Something like 25,000 bed nights were being lost here in Canberra because there wasn’t enough accommodation,” Mr Collishaw said.
The park already has $6.4 million worth of forward bookings from school groups as far away as Perth and North Queensland and as far forward as 2023.
This is only stage one of the project – construction on stage 1A, an extension of around 54 caravan sites, will start later this year.
Construction on stage two will begin in 2018 and stage three some time after that.
Stage two includes 140 two- and three-bedroom cabins and stage three will be a 180-bed motel.
“The price point here is around $95 per student per night which covers breakfast lunch and dinner, there are separate accommodation packages available just for weekends, the accommodation is around $50 per night per person so it makes a trip to Canberra in our view quite an affordable exercise,” Mr Collishaw said.
Mr Barr said the government was looking at leasing out other sites, including Stromlo Forest Park, for more low-cost accommodation and would consider future land releases for more group lodgings.
“Stromlo is the major one we’re focusing on at this point in time, we’re certainly looking at that over this parliamentary term,” Mr Barr said.
Photo: Katie Burgess