Exemplifying the industry’s resilience, soaring fuel costs and inflation are not swaying campers from booking their campsites. If anything, a new trend can be seen emerging, according to outdoor hospitality industry experts.
During the June 1 episode of MC Fireside Chats, a video podcast of Modern Campground, CampgroundViews.com Founder and CEO Mark Koep shared that campgrounds and RV parks were still packed with campers during the recent Memorial Day weekend.
After the challenges brought to the camping industry by COVID-19 and even supply chain bottlenecks that continue to affect various sectors, raging gas prices and inflation threaten to scuff the sector. However, such does not seem to be the case, as per the accounts of outdoor hospitality industry experts.
“Camping is the most affordable way to travel, even with all the expenses that add up… It’s a good sign that we’re again in an industry that is going to be resilient in the face of a significant headwind,” Koep said during the show.
The statement of Kampgrounds of America’s (KOA) Chief Marketing Officer Whitney Scott in a press release last month reflects the same sentiment as the company reported over 22 million households that planned to camp over Memorial Day and Victoria Day weekends.
“Largely, while we know gas prices will have an impact, campers are choosing to alter how they camp rather than canceling plans. The bottom line is that camping is an affordable way to travel that has resilience,” she said.
While most fear that rising prices will severely affect bookings, a new trend of “nearcations” seems to be emerging.
Sandy Ellingson, an RV industry consultant, said that campers are choosing to take shorter trips in terms of distance due to gas prices but are opting for longer stays. During the previous episode of MC Fireside Chats, she shared that parks reported more than half of the people who camped over the long weekend were locals, and the remaining percentage of those who camped was within the 150 miles.
The same can be said for Canada.
In a report, an owner of an RV dealership shared that some customers plan to stay closer to their home, while others plan to stay longer at a campsite.
A recent study by RV rental and outdoor travel company Outdoorsy also found that despite budget problems, 70% of survey respondents said they still plan to hit the road this year. In addition, almost six in ten respondents (58%) said they plan to vacation closer to home this summer to battle inflation and rising gas prices.
Bill Mcleod and D Melton of South Carolina-based Big Rig Friendly RV Resort also anticipate the same. In a previous interview with Modern Campground, the duo said that demand for RV sites remains strong.
McLeod believes that while their nightly traffic could be affected, their monthly traffic could see the better side of the coin, as the park’s proximity to industrial areas will mean longer stays from campers in the working sector.
Meanwhile, in Germany, Ivar Mensink of Camping Dreams expects more bookings as the European country’s government lowers gas prices.
“With lower gas prices here in Germany now, we expect people to start booking the rest of the high season. We expect [a] great year,” Mensink said during the June 1 episode of MC Fireside Chats.
Later this year, things might also be brighter for the Sunshine State because Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has recently signed the largest tax relief package in the state’s history. Through the package, drivers can save about 25.3 cents per gallon for the entire month of October. Those in Florida can also save from the mobile home tax rate, which will be reduced from 6% to 3%.