Camping is on the rise in Michigan, which is helping to pump up sales this summer at recreational vehicle dealerships, according to an Associated Press report.
John Korpal, owner of Tri-City RV in Bay County, reported selling 88 new and used vehicles so far this year, including 20 in June alone. They sold 75 all of last year.
Korpal said he’s been selling more entry-level units and seeing more first-time campers. Average per-unit sales this year are about $11,000, compared with about $19,000 in 2004, he said.
Hot summer weather, more affordable trailers and hectic lives are helping sell more campers, according Korpal. He also sees some boaters switching to camping because of low water levels.
“People want to get out and get away,” Korpal said.
Camping is up about 4% at Michigan state parks this year, said Rebecca A. Humphries, director of the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Sales of daily and annual state park vehicle permits are up about 10%.
The demand is good news for the DNR, which has become more dependent on user fees to operate its parks, Humphries said.
Statewide, campers spent 780,259 nights at state parks from October 2004 through June 30. That’s up 22,706 camping nights from the same period in 2003-2004. Permit sales rose by nearly 40,000 from October 2004 through June.
Korpal’s customers include Gene and Maureen Goik, who bought a new RV about two weeks ago. They’ve already visited a state park in Harrison and were planning a trip to another state park in Traverse City.
“We love it,” Maureen Goik said. “Every weekend we have free, we’re going.”