insites09The RV industry has had a very tough couple of year, but even in the RV industry there are signs of a turnaround, Richard Coon, president of the Reston, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), said at this week’s InSites Convention in Orlando, Fla., sponsored by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

In his remarks to InSites attendees, Coon said 30 of 105 RV manufacturers have gone out of business during the current recession. On the other hand, 15 new companies have launched RV manufacturing businesses during the last two years and RVIA statistics show a mere 1% drop in shipments during the third quarter compared to the same period last year.

Coon said there are several reasons why the RV industry has continued to survive, despite tough economic times. “The basic (need) for RVs is deeply rooted in family values (and) the enduring appeal of the natural environment,” he said. “This appeal will overcome any economic barriers.”

At the same time, Coon said, the camping lifestyle is drawing growing levels of interest, not only among Americans, but to people around the world. He noted that more than 50 representatives from China will be attending the National RV Trade Show in Louisville in December and that many of them have expressed interest in learning how to develop campgrounds.

Coon also said it behooves the RV and private park industries to find more ways to work closer together.

“You guys are as close to the consumer as anyone I know of,” Coon said. “You have information that I know you’d love to share with the manufacturers that you hear every day – complaints or interest in the products – and we have to have more avenues to bring that message forward to the manufacturers.”

Coon added, “We need to set up a hotline for you in the campgrounds” so that private park operators and their guests can quickly find product and service information “without a lot of hassle.”

Coon also said the RV and campground industries need to develop better standards for handling sewage “or we will become regulated.”