Despite the current fuel price run-up, RVers are enthusiastic heading into the Labor Day weekend.
Nearly seven out of ten RV owners surveyed in a March 2005 poll conducted by Robert Hitlin Research Associates said they would use their vehicles more this summer compared to last year; approximately half expect to travel more total miles; and about a fourth of respondents plan to use their vehicles the same amount. Only about 4% plan to use their vehicles less.
Those numbers are holding up according to the Woodall’s/ARVC RV Park and Campground Survey. Fourth of July weekend occupancy rates averaged an increase of about 6% overall when compared to the same time last year.
The travel industry had predicted a 2.3% increase in summer leisure travel overall, which means RV travel is up nearly triple the rate of other travel options. Occupancy rates stayed significantly higher through Sunday, indicating that most campers extended their stay until Monday of the long weekend. All of this means that RVers are traveling more often and using the weekends for vacation getaways.
Campgrounds and RV Parks were at near capacity for the Fourth of July, 87% on Saturday and Sunday with some parks reporting 100% occupancy. With an overall average of 84% occupancy for the long weekend, those statistics bode well for the upcoming Labor Day weekend.
Currently, occupancy levels are still holding at an average of 6% higher than last year. What is more promising is that reservation levels are still 6% higher than last year.
“Frequent mini-vacations are a rising trend among RVers and the top reason they plan to travel more this summer,” said Joe Daquino, multimedia division vice president/Woodall’s publisher. “Nearly a fourth of RVers surveyed plan to travel closer to home this season. Whether traveling 5 or 500 miles, RVers enjoy the same quality time with loved ones, taking advantage of closer-to-home recreation opportunities and destinations or staying in one place to cut fuel costs.”
He added, “For a 200-mile RV trip at 10 mpg, for example, the added cost of 20 gallons of fuel would only be $20 if the cost per gallon rose by one dollar.”
Dr. Edward Mahoney of Michigan State University estimates that between May and August there were 124,865,541 site nights available for occupancy in commercial RV parks and campgrounds. There are a little over one million sites available in 8,000 commercial RV parks and campgrounds throughout the United States.
“With 8,000 parks nationwide, RVers have the flexibility to modify the distance or length of their trips,” said Linda Profaizer, president of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC). “This versatility throughout the United States allows RVers to keep costs down by simply choosing a location closer to home.”
“RVers know that RV vacations deliver excellent overall value,” said Profaizer. For example, RV travelers spend on average only about $24 per night for a site at a full-service campground. They tend to buy groceries and cook their meals in the RV instead of paying high restaurant prices.
Most of these goods are purchased in the communities around the campground where they spend about $91 per night, according to the Recreation Industries Research Center at Michigan State University. The direct spending figure does not include the campground fees paid to the commercial campgrounds.
With an average of $324.39 spent per campsite spent in the local community on a holiday weekend, it is estimated that the economic impact of the Fourth of July weekend was $272 million.
Last year, Woodall’s/ARVC RV Park and Campground Survey estimated that more than $3.8 billion was spent by RVers and campers in local communities as they visited the nation’s commercial RV parks and campgrounds from Memorial Day to Labor Day. That amount should reach over $4 billion for the same time period in 2005.