Florida continues to experience tourism growth despite an increasing numbers of private park operators exiting the campground business and selling to developers.
Roughly 35 campgrounds were sold during the past year alone, according to the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
“On the plus side, this opens up many opportunities for campgrounds to attract new customers,” Florida ARVC stated in its annual report, noting occupancies were up in 2005 and many campgrounds are booked for the winter season and into the first quarter of 2006. “Quality campgrounds are in demand, and the campgrounds that aren’t selling are seeing an increase in business.”
However, impact fees and regulations make it “virtually impossible” for new campgrounds to be built or for existing campgrounds to expand.
“In addition,” the Florida association asserts, “the campgrounds are frequently an unfair target for fees and assessments. The counties simply take the attitude that if you don’t like it, then take us to court.”
While Florida ARVC acknowledges that it doesn’t have sufficient resources to fight “all the individual county battles,” it has formed a task force comprised of campground owners and legislative consultants to study these issues and recommend solutions that it can pursue at the state level.
Meanwhile, Florida ARVC reported a number of positive developments during the past year, including:
Increased demand for the Florida Camping Directory: The 2006 directory is available in print and online at www.floridacamping.com. The online version includes a searchable database. Advertising revenues are also up for the Florida Camping Directory, which is distributed annually to about 500,000 camping families.
Increased demand for brochures distributed through Florida ARVC’s Co-Op Mail Program: The association is distributing about 350 packets with campground and RV park brochures weekly. The dramatic increase in demand is largely being driven through Internet requests, the association said.
Increased membership: The association gained 40 new members during the ’05-’06 membership period, offsetting member losses experienced as private parks were sold during the past year.
A successful annual conference: The 2005 conference, held in May in Orlando, featured 32 exhibitors and approximately 110 attendees representing 60 campgrounds. The 2006 conference is slated for May 8-11 at the Marriott Sand Key Resort in Clearwater Beach.
The election of new officers: Officers for 2006 include Chairman Sam Marchand, Port of the Islands RV Park, Ft. Myers; Vice Chairman John Parkhurst, Holiday RV Resort, Leesburg; Treasurer Nita Shirley, Whisper Creek RV Resort, LaBelle; and Secretary Bob Little, Vacation Inn Resort, West Palm Beach. The association’s outgoing chairman, Dick Whalen of Dunedin Beach RV Resort, will serve as immediate past chair.