As the winter season settles in, so do winter visitors to Arizona. That means restaurants in the Tucson area may be busier, and shopping centers more packed. With all the extra business, it’s a season that many local industries depend on.
“For about four months, we fill up completely,” said George O’Leary, owner of Rincon Country RV Resort. O’Leary says only 20% of his RV spaces are occupied by year-round residents. He depends heavily on winter visitors for the bulk of his business. And this year, he’s already off to a busy start.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he told KOLD-TV, Tucson. “One day, 10 rigs showed up without reservations, that was very nice to see that.”
O’Leary says reservations for spaces this past month are up 25% compared to this time last year. And the spending impact of winter visitors doesn’t stop there. “They’re going to restaurants and buying cars and buying RVs.”
Among the thousands of winter visitors making their home in Tucson for the season are Virgil and Carole Musch. They just arrived from South Dakota, and plan to settle in through mid-April.
“We come here every year,” Virgil said. “It’s our seventh year.”
The Muschs bought their RV in Tucson years ago, and that’s not the only money they’re pumping into the economy. They plan to go shopping and dine out often at their favorite restaurants. “By the time we leave, we’ll probably be a little bit fatter,” Virgil joked.
A survey by the Arizona Assocaition of RV Parks and Campgrounds shows a mixed industry forecast. Some RV resorts in the state are already reporting an increase in reservations among winter visitors. Some are anticipating lower numbers compared to last year, and others expect the trend to stay flat.