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Surfside holiday plans for summer 2020-2021

News Article Date: 
Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Council will this week begin a ballot process to allocate campsites at its Surfside and Shipwreck Bay holiday parks.

Guest numbers at the holiday parks will be limited this year as a result of COVID-19 regulations and this has necessitated a ballot as a fair means to allocate sites.

“In running a ballot we’re aiming to accommodate as many people as we can while keeping guests and staff safe,” Warrnambool City Council Acting Chief Executive Vikki King said.

“We’re mindful of our need to comply with COVID-19 regulations and we can’t be complacent in our approach to staying safe.

“The ballot is about equity and safety.

“It provides all those who had pre-booked sites this summer with an equal chance of enjoying a week-long stay at Surfside or Shipwreck Bay.

“All our visitors who had summer bookings were advised in September that we were unlikely to be operating at full capacity.

“We’ve received a considerable amount of feedback on the plan – positive and negative - and we do understand that for some there is great frustration that a long-standing summer camping tradition is being interrupted.

“But we simply can’t allocate spaces on the basis that someone who has been visiting for 20 years has a greater entitlement than someone who has been visiting for 15 years.

“So we’ve opted for the ballot to provide everyone with the same opportunity.

“Ballots are used elsewhere at venues including Tidal River at Wilsons Promontory and Cape Conran Coastal Park.

“However we do hope that resorting to a ballot will be an exception and that we can return to normal for the summer of 2021-2022.

“There has been some commentary about what other holiday parks around Victoria are doing but each park is different and each park has to make decisions in accordance with regulations and with guests and staff safety in mind.

“While some smaller parks may be able to open at normal capacity others, such as the Mornington Peninsula Council-owned park, will be closed completely over the peak holiday period.

“In Warrnambool over December-January we usually have about 3,500 people accommodated along our foreshore parks.

“Those familiar with our parks know that it is a very busy precinct.

“Were we to operate at full capacity we would face challenges around social distance compliance, particularly around the use of shared amenity blocks.

“Even at the reduced capacity we will still have an increased cleaning and hygiene program operating to ensure the safety of guests and staff.

“We will still have that great festive atmosphere but with one-in-two campsites being made available it will be a safe, festive atmosphere.

“We appreciate the patience shown by our loyal guests.

“It’s been a difficult decision to make but it is important to emphasise that we will still have about 1800 people across more than 500 sites enjoying the parks and supporting the local economy.

“We explored other creative ways to accommodate additional visitors in a safe and compliant way such as using other open spaces or bringing in additional, temporary amenity blocks but we believe the decision to operate at a lower than normal capacity is an appropriate balance between meeting safety concerns of the community and encouraging activity to support our local businesses.

“We’ll continue to monitor and respond to the latest advice from the Victorian Government.

“We are getting in touch directly with guests via SMS or email to keep them informed about the process.”

 

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