b'on our own, so to do this we hired a lawyer to selves from a legal standpoint during the legislation that could affect the private park recreation facilities to her members alongget a message toand a response backCOVID-19 pandemic. business. She has also been working with with information on employee retention taxfrom the governors office. He explained our CARVC member campgrounds, for exam- Visit California to begin marketing efforts tar- credits and payroll pro-reasoning for the request to modify Executive ple, have been taking advantage of the asso- geting outdoor recreation and camping and tection programs.Order 55 and we were told they would con- ciations legal hotline, which offers one hour working with national industry partners, in- I normally only sendsider it. We also worked with the Virginia of free legal advice, Witting said. cluding RVIA and ARVC, to create appropriate one to two emails perRestaurant, Lodging and Travel Association Theattorneyrecentlyputtogethera messaging. month to our members,to create a gradual reopening proposal for Memorandum of Understanding for one of our The Texas Association of Campground Thibodaux said, but thecampgrounds, Peck said, adding that the member campgrounds for campers to sign Owners(TACO) has sent out emailed newslet- communication the pastproposal was to be submitted in late April. upon checking in, acknowledging that the ters every few days over the past several coupleofmonthshasBobby Cornwell, executive director of the campground would not be liable for any dam- weeks covering topics ranging from Centers been very frequent be- Lisa ThibodauxFlorida Association of RV Parks and Camp- ages suffered by the camper. The document for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines to CARES cause of all of the developments involvinggrounds (Florida ARVC), wassharedwithothermembercamp- Act stimulus funds to business insurance COVID-19 that directly affect campground andsaid the first few weeks grounds, Witting said. questions and the latest news involving the RV park operators.of the pandemic were Every state campground association man- governors Strike Force to Open Texas. I have received many (emails) thankingthe most intense. ager contacted by WCMsaid they have been Lisa Thibodaux, executive director of the me for keeping them on top of everything thatForthefirsttwo working long hours to keep their members in- LouisianaAssociationofRVParksand is going on. As they are all still open, they doweeks,hesaid,we formed with email updates and blog posts. Campgrounds (LARVC), said she has been in not have the time to find the resources that Iwere scrambling to stay Kelley explained she has been involved in frequent communication with ARVC and other have forwarded on to them, Thibodaux said.Bobby Cornwell up to date on what was frequent meetings with California Gov. Gavin tourism industry associations, as well as state Mary Arlington, for her part, has also beenhappening, just trying to Newsoms Office of Business and Economic and federal officials, including officials at the burning the midnight oil updating and advo-figure out which counties were going to be Development, as well as Californias Office of White House, to discuss the impact of COVID- cating on behalf of private park operators foraffected. Emergency Services and CalTravels COVID- 19 on the tourism industry. She has also been the state campground associations she man-Fortunately, he said, Florida ARVC was able 19 Task Force, as well as staying up to date on distributingCDCguidelinesforparksand State Associationscontinued on page 30to participate in tourism task force conferencecalls with the Florida governors office, as wellas the Florida Department of Health.I was in constant contact with the Depart-ment of Health just so they understood wewere essential, Cornwell said, noting thatFlorida ARVC needed to work to differentiateprivate parks from state park campgrounds,which the state had ordered to close.While Florida Health Department officialssaid they would ultimately have to defer to thegovernorsoffice,commerciallodgingended up being listed by the state as an es-sential business, which gave a green light toprivate parks to continue to accommodatelong-term guests.By state code, we are a commercial lodg-ing establishment, Cornwell said, adding thatFlorida ARVC was also proactive in providingits members with links to Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention (CDC) social distanc-ingguidelinesandcheckedwithFloridaHealth Department officials to ensure that itwas OK for private parks to close their rest-rooms and showers.Most campgrounds have been able to stay openand host full-time RVers and essential personnel. But despite doing everything in its powerto be sure that Florida parks could continue toaccommodate existing guests, Cornwell saidthepandemichadasignificanteffectonFloridas snowbird business.Many Florida RV parks and campgroundssaw a decrease in business due to the earlydeparture of most Canadian visitors and snow-birds in late March, and for April the RV parksare, of course, seeing a drastic decline inshort-term visitors and transient guests due totravel restrictions and stay-at-home orders,Cornwell said in an email to park members.The RV parks who accommodate longer-term stays of 29 days or more, and cater tothat market, are doing better than others. Weestimate the average Florida RV park andcampground occupancy rate, statewide, forMarch was around 70%, down about 20%,and will be around 30% to 40% for April, downby 40% to 50%. Of course, the longer the travelrestrictionsandCOVID-19fearslast,theworse the impact will be, he said.Meanwhile, some park operators havebeen relying on their state campground asso-ciations for advice on how to protect them-WOODALLSCM.com June 2020-23'