Bobby Cornwell

Bobby Cornwell, executive director of both the Flordia Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (Florida ARVC) and the Alabama Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (Alabama ARVC), told WOODALLSCM.com that business overall in both states has been “OK” as park owners work through the COVID-19 crisis.

“As far as snowbird traffic, parks aren’t seeing many snowbirds this time of year, most left in March, and pretty much all Canadians had to get back across the border by the end of March,” he explained. “However, there have been some parks that have reported that some of their snowbirds, who typically would have left by now, are staying put until the virus passes and the stay at home orders are rescinded.”

Cornwell noted that some park owners have seen a decrease in numbers due to the COVID-19 crisis, but that others are doing well and some have even reported increases over 2019.

“Those parks that are mostly true vacation parks and depend on tourism, weekend business or overnight travelers are down,” he explained. “For those that have a good seasonal (long-term) business, and offer monthly accommodations, they seem to be doing well.

“Renting vacation rentals (park model RVs, cabins, rental trailers … etc.) short-term (less than 28 days) was banned statewide in Fla., so that has hurt businesses who have a lot of short term vacation rentals,” Cornwell added. “Yet some parks were able to convert some of those short-term campers to long-term stays (over 28 days), which was helpful.”

Cornwell said that it is difficult to know for sure what the average occupancy rate statewide is, but that from reports he has received and other feedback he estimates the current occupancy rate is around 50%, which he noted isn’t too bad for this time of year.

“April is typically a relatively slow month for many owners in Florida anyways,” he noted. “We’ve been fortunate overall, but if this drags on much longer we are likely to see more declines.”

Cornwell said that the association has been focusing on helping park owners adapt to the situation, and working with hospitals and medical staff to connect them with RV parks who are donating vacation rentals to doctors working on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

“It’s been great to have our industry step-up and be a part of the solution,” he said. “In addition, our focus is to make sure our industry and our RV parks are ready for when the travel and vacation rental bans end. We feel RV parks and campgrounds offer the best opportunity to travel and visit a destination in the safety and comfort of your own RV. We are going to continue to push that message.”