HOLIDAY makers planning to camp at Paradise Beach and Golden Beach this summer could be in for a shock.
They will have to pay site fees, introduced by Parks Victoria earlier this year.
Parks Victoria regional director Andrew Marshall said fees introduced at Golden Beach and Paradise Beach were needed to maintain services at the previously free camp sites.
“New fees for camping and roofed accommodation apply at 197 of the state’s 680 campsites in national, state and other parks and reserves,” he said.
“Fees go back into maintaining camping and roofed accommodation facilities and services across the state.
“Upgrades to sites at Paradise Beach and Golden Beach are currently underway.
“The works will further improve the camping experience and protect the surrounding environment.”
According to Parks Victoria, fees will vary according to facilities provided at each campsite.
Golden Beach, classified as basic-very basic, will cost $13 per site per night, and Paradise Beach campground fees will cost $37.80 per site (up to six persons) during peak periods.
Golden Beach Building Supplies owner Mark Maybury said he agreed the area needed to be maintained but questioned the sudden onset of fees for campers.
“Yes they need to maintain the area but they’ve done nothing for the past 30 years,” Mr Maybury said.
“And to introduce paying between $13 to $37 is ridiculous when other places are $6 a night.
“They should get people used to paying a small amount first and then increase it.”
Mr Marshall said camping and accommodation fees across the state had not changed significantly in the past decade and as a result, did not represent the true cost of providing and maintaining services.
“The revised fee structure helps to offset part of the annual shortfall in delivering camping facilities, which costs around $17.8 million each year,” Mr Marshall said.
“The standard of facilities and maintenance across these sites would have suffered unless changes were made.
“Even a basic site with minimal or no facilities requires ongoing maintenance to ensure it is a safe environment for campers.
“The new fees mean that campsites and roofed accommodation in parks and reserves can be maintained and serviced to the standards visitors expect.”
Mr Maybury said he had additional concerns about new restrictions to the number of people camping at the Golden Beach site.
“The biggest issue is the amount of campers will be reduced,” Mr Maybury said.
“Especially for the fishing competition in January; they usually pack in like sardines.
“Restricting the number of campers and increasing the fees; it’s a bit over the top.
“If people have to pay, they won’t come back.”
Mr Marshall said sites had been rationalised into three areas with 120 sites, providing for more than 700 potential visitors on any one night.
“The changes were made as the sites were being damaged with trees regularly cut down and fences removed by campers trying to squeeze in more tents,” Mr Marshall said.
“These changes will mean better management of camping at the sites, defined beach access and sustainable, ongoing protection of the special environment that attracts campers to Golden Beach in the first place.”