CONTACT: Linda Profaizer
President and CEO
National Assn of RV Parks and Campgrounds
Occupancy and revenue declines were primarily reported by parks in the Northeast, which experienced an unusually wet summer, and in parts of Texas, where a persistent drought significantly lowered water levels in rivers normally used for river tubing, kayaking and other water sports
LARKSPUR, Colo., Sept. 30, 2009 – Campground and RV park occupancies and revenues have largely kept pace with 2008 figures, despite the recession, according to an informal survey of parks by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), the nation’s largest campground chain with more than 430 locations across the U.S. and Canada, was 1.1 percent ahead of 2008 occupancy figures systemwide through the end of September, while revenues were up 5.6 percent, according to Mike Gast, a company spokesman.
Meanwhile, Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), which franchises roughly 70 Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, which are mostly located east of the Mississippi River, has experienced a 5 percent jump in revenues, although its systemwide occupancies have fallen slightly, largely because of wet weather in the Northeast, said Dean Crawford, LSI’s executive vice president.
“The campground and RV park business continues to be the most vibrant segment of the travel and tourism industry,” said Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds in Larkspur, Colo., which represents commercially owned parks nationwide.
“Private parks have performed well in this economy,” Profaizer said, “because they are the most affordable vacation option, they increasingly offer fun family activities, and they are located in the most sought after destinations in the country.” Many private campgrounds and RV parks also offer unique accommodations, such as park model or site-built cabins, yurts, safari tents and teepees for people who don’t have their own RV or tent, but still want to enjoy a recreational experience in the Great Outdoors, she said.
Here’s a sampling of year-to-date business levels and occupancies reported by independently owned campgrounds and RV parks across the country:
* Branson KOA in Branson, Mo.: Occupancies at this park are up 9 percent so far this year, although the park has seen a slight dip in lodging bookings. However, the park saw its average length of stay increase this year, from 4.5 nights to 5 nights, with more walk-ins than ever, said park owner Ralph Newell. “We had the best July and August we’ve ever had, due to our new jumping pillow and kids’ activities. Fall is looking better than last year.”
* Buttonwood Campground in Mexico, Pennsylvania: This central Pennsylvania park reported a 3.2 percent increase in overnight campers through early September, compared to last year, with big gains in canoe and kayak rentals and cabin rentals. “We have about 170 open sites and cabins and have enjoyed an average weekend occupancy rate of 80 percent plus for the summer,” said park owner Dennis McFarland.
* Country Acres Campground in Ravenna, Ohio: This park, located roughly 50 miles southeast of Cleveland, has seen a 9.6 percent increase in its overall camping business this year. “That is mostly due to an increase in seasonal campers, up 14 percent, and tenters, up 6 percent, while RV sites are pretty even to last year,” said park owner Anthony Palmentera, adding that he has seen an increase in the number of young couples in their 20s who are starting to camp with older pop-up trailers or large tents. Palmentera, however, has also seen a 7 percent decline in bookings for his 10 cabins and park models.
* Cross Creek RV Park in Lake Ozark, Mo. This park, which is open April 1 to Nov. 1, experienced an 83 percent increase in tent camping, a 73 percent increase in cabin rentals and a 56 percent increase in RV site usage during the past six months, compared to the same period last year, according to park hosts John and Wendy Peters.
* Falcon Meadow RV Campground in Falcon, Colo. : This park, located 15 miles northwest of Colorado Springs, experienced a 4 percent gain in :occupancies during the summer months compared to the same period last year, said park owner Jim Ozburn.
* Lawrence / Kansas City KOA in Lawrence, Kansas: This park, located 40 miles west of Kansas City, Kan., has seen an 11 percent increase in occupancy compared to last year. “During the holiday weekends, we had to turn people away because we had a completely full park,” said Harold Hays, KOA park manager.
* Normandy Farms in Foxboro, Mass.: This park, which is situated about 22 miles southwest of Boston, experienced a 6.5 percent drop in occupancy in June compared to the same period last year, largely due to rainy weather in the Northeast. However, park occupancies were up 4.6 and 1.3 percent in July and August, respectively, while weekend bookings remain strong through October, said park spokeswoman Kristine Daniels.
* Parkview Riverside RV Park in Concan, Texas: This Hill Country park has seen a 2 to 3 percent decline in year to date occupancies, largely because of the drought, which has caused the Rio Frio River to fall to levels that were too slow and too shallow for river tubing, said park owner Doug Shearer.
* Premier RV Resort in Redding, Calif.: This park has seen a 4 percent increase in gross revenues during the first eight months of this year compared to last year. “We are seeing a nice increase in first time visitors who are staying from two to four days while they are vacationing in the area,” said park owner Paul Williams, adding that the increase in demand from RVers has prompted the park to add 21 new pull through sites, which will be available in early October.
* Sandy Pines in Hopkins, Mich.: This 2,220-site park, one of the largest RV resorts in country, saw a 7 percent increase in camping reservations this year compared to last year, with an 8 percent increase in rental cabins. “The economic conditions are not very good in Michigan, but camping is still an inexpensive activity for a family and they are doing what they can there with limited money,” said Max Gibbs, the park’s managing director. Sandy Pines is about 30 miles south of Grand Rapids.
* The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course in Borrego Springs, Calif.: 2009 occupancies are running slightly ahead of last year’s figures at this low desert park, which is located just outside of Anza Borrego Desert State Park, said Daniel Wright, the park’s general manager.
* Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resort and Water Playground in the Wisconsin Dells: This park reported close to a 10 percent gain in occupancies this year. However, overall park revenues declined nearly 7 percent as many of its park guests downsized to more affordable accommodations and campsites. “As we have eight types of outdoor lodging starting at $49 and six types of ‘bear-rific’ campsites starting at $19 for a family of four, there were plenty of alternatives to choose from,” said park spokesman Brent Gasser.
For additional commentary, statistics and sources on the latest camping trends in campgrounds and RV resorts or for leads on parks in your news coverage area, please contact Linda Profaizer at the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds at (303) 681-0401 and visit the association’s newly revised website at http://www.GoCampingAmerica.com. The association also has state affiliates, which can help you localize camping related information in your coverage area. Contact information for the private parks referenced in this news release is provided below:
* Branson KOA, Ralph Newell, (417) 593-3107 or [email protected]
* Buttonwood Campground, Dennis McFarland, (717) 436-8334 or [email protected]
* Country Acres Campground in Ravenna, Oh, Anthony Palmentera, (330) 358-2774 or [email protected]
* Cross Creek RV Park in Lake Ozark, Mo., John and Wendy Peters, (888) 250-3885 or [email protected]
* Falcon Meadow RV Campground, Jim Ozburn, (719) 495-2694 or [email protected]
* Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), Mike Gast, (406) 254-7409 or [email protected]
* Lawrence KOA, Harold Hays, (785) 842-3877 or [email protected]
* Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), franchisor of Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, Dean Crawford, (513) 831-2100, Ext. 12 or [email protected]
* Normandy Farms Campground, Kristine Daniels, (866) 673-2767, Ext. 306, [email protected]
* Parkview Riverside RV Park in Concan, Doug Shearer, (830) 591-3899 or [email protected]
* Premier RV Resorts, Redding, Calif., Paul Williams, (503) 860-5627 or [email protected]
* Sandy Pines, Hopkins, Mich., Max Gibbs, (616) 896-8315 or [email protected]
* The Springs at Borrego RV Resort, (760) 767-0004 or [email protected]
* Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort, Wisconsin Dells, Brent Gasser, (608) 254-2568, Ext. 811 or [email protected]