Camping has emerged as one of the top choices for many families this year. The road to recovery started last year, when revenue for the nation’s more than 13,000 privately run campgrounds and RV parks grew 3% after falling 4.8% in the wake of the recession in 2009, according to a new report by IBISWorld, which provides market intelligence on a variety of industries. Although hurt somewhat by the recession, camping didn’t fall as fast as other travel segments, such as hotels and motels, whose revenue plummeted more than 9% in 2009.
The camping uptick is expected to continue for the next five years as more retiring baby boomers hit the open road. Growing up in the “height of the Boy Scout movement,” boomers have a “permanent appreciation of the outdoors,” IBISWorld notes in the report. “This generation is expected to be wealthier and live longer than any prior generation, making them prime targets for an RV lifestyle.”
Even the RV industry, which got pummeled during the recession, is coming back, with wholesale shipments on track to grow by 7.4% in 2012, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, which says improving credit conditions are outweighing higher fuel costs and sluggish employment trends.
And that includes marketing, as a leading association seeks to bring cohesion to the traditionally decentralized industry, which is dominated by independently owned, often family-run, sites. The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, which represents 3,300 mostly privately owned member campgrounds, is overhauling its gocampingamerica.com website to include more information on individual sites, including videos. The association is also reaching out to consumer packaged-goods marketers in hopes of luring more brands to campsite stores, which today typically carry a bare-bones offering of snack foods and basic medicines.