Tourism industry star Tasman Holiday Parks plans to double its portfolio over the next three years after a $300-million private equity raise.
The war chest will enable the fast-growing owner, developer and operator of holiday parks to dive deeper into the sector and continue the breakneck acquisition drive it has been on since the onset of the pandemic.
Since 2019 the group, backed by Tasman Capital, has swooped on 21 holiday parks in Australia and New Zealand, spending $250 million.
The group currently owns 16 holiday parks in Australia with a distinct focus on Queensland and NSW—they have seven parks in each state, plus five in New Zealand.
Tasman Holiday Parks itself operates all the properties, which are ultimately owned by Tasman Tourism Operations, and employs more than 300 staff.
It manages more than 3000 sites—often on large, generally flat plots of land, and in prime locations, such as near water and natural attractions. They comprise cabins, caravan and camping sites, and short-term holiday accommodation.
Tasman Holiday Parks chief executive Nikki Milne, a former chief operating officer of Ingenia Communities Group, told The Urban Developer the timing was right to expand with demand for domestic travel expected to remain elevated for the next three to four years.
“This is fast becoming an institutional-grade asset in terms of yield management strategies, development opportunities and the ability to establish a network of assets,” Milne said.
“We look for assets on a touring route, two to three hours from major population centres, and typically around key coastal markets.
“We also have a diverse range of assets geographically within our portfolio.
“So, while a northern asset in Queensland hits its peak in the middle of the year, April until August, our southern assets traditionally have a very strong summer season and those in Western Australia are a blend of the two.”
Among the latest acquisitions is Christchurch TOP10 Holiday Park, a 277-site park with camping and caravan sites as well as cabins and short-term holiday sites.
Milne said that location’s strong development upside and strategic location aligned with its portfolio of quality assets in iconic destinations.
“The recent easing of restrictions has resulted in some very strong rebounds—not only in bookings but in consumer sentiment,” Milne said.
“People have emerged from restrictions and want to reaffirm their ability to have experiences by visiting timeless places where they are transported from the ‘business of life’ by escaping into nature with moments of freedom, friendliness and relaxation.
“Holiday parks are a part of the fabric of family life and when we are searching for new assets we are looking for iconic locations in key markets that are connected to nature and water.”
In Australia, the $34-billion caravan park industry directly employs 53,000 people and creates 60 million visitor nights across the country.
There are 2400 caravan parks in Australia—350 of those are owned by a publicly-listed company, but the vast majority are owned and operated by mum and dad investors.
For many holiday park managers and developers, a mixed-use caravan park is not only underpinned by tourism revenue but by annuals—short-term annual occupants who have a right to occupy for a set number of days a year—and a small portion of permanent residents.
The group is now looking to increase its stake in New Zealand with plans to lift its portfolio weighting from 20 per cent to 30 per cent.
With its five parks Tasman is already that nation’s biggest operator.
“New Zealand is spectacular and has a number of unrepeatable, iconic locations perfect for this type of asset,” Milne said.
“We have a really experienced team and use a very strong commercial lens to ensure that any asset we are considering is unique and of a certain quality with the potential to extract ongoing value and utilise surplus land.
“That intensification opportunity could involve changing the stock mix, introducing more high yielding cabins, en-suited campsites, kitchens, fire pits, water slides, or even a nature reserve.”
Touring and camping holidays have since emerged as a mega-trend that accelerated through Covid-19 as part of the regional tourism boom after the broader travel sector had been smashed in the early months of the pandemic.
Countries such as Australia with a large pool of domestic travellers, as well as New Zealand, mainland China and Japan, are already leading the rebound, supported by the introduction of government investment and policies to stimulate domestic tourism.