b'Many southern-tier parks like Rincon CountryEast are still seeing strong reservation numbersfor the upcoming winter months, but with thecurrent COVID crisis and the U.S./Canada borderclosure, many are still wondering how manysnowbirds will make the trip south. BY JEFF CRIDER ground Owners As- supportive of camping. icans, as well as Canadians, from visitingThe continuing closure of the border sociation. In Canada, however, park operators Alaska this year. Even the normal cruisebetween the United States and Canada Someofour have suffered not only from the loss of ships that take tourists to Valdez andhashadnegativefinancialconse- southern and coastal U.S. travelers, but also from pandemic other port cities have not been able toquences for private parks on both sides parks up through Bar restrictions that have limited or prohib- operate due to COVID-19 restrictions.of the border. Harbor are seeing an ited travel between provinces. Its been a terrible year, said Jerni-Joss Penny, executive director of the increaseinMaine I can unequivocally say that camp- gan, who runs the park with his wife,BritishColumbiaCampgroundsand residents,butnot grounds within close proximity to the Cindy, and daughter, Ashley.LodgingAssociation (B.C.LA),told enough to make up Canada/U.S. border have certainly been The 161-site park has nine rental cab-WoodallsCampgroundManagement fortheCanadian Kathy Dyer negatively impacted by the closure, said ins and its located on the Alaska High-(WCM)thathis border being closed, Dyer said. CaraBraeutigam, way, about 100 miles from the Canadianprovince has also lost While campgrounds in Maine have membership coordi- border.thenormalflowof benefitted from the pandemic-induced nator for the Cana- Theresnobodyonthehighway,Europeantravelers surge in RV sales and increased numbers dianCampingand Jernigan said. Im used to 40, 50 or 60who rent RVs for trips of U.S. campers hitting the road, quaran- RV Council.RVs a day. The most Ive had this year isacrossCanadaand tinerestrictionshavealsoprecluded TheAtlantic nine. I didnt even open the back part oftheU.S.Whilethe travelers from Massachusetts and Rhode provinces have par- the park.pandemichascre- Island from visiting Maine this summer, ticularlystruggled The only thing thats kept him going,atedanewcropof she said. this camping season, he said, is a trickle of U.S. military ser-Joss Penny B.C.camperswho Campgrounds in New York have also astheyareprohib- Cara Braeutigam vicemen, including pilots and mechan-havebeentravelingthroughoutthe been negatively affected by the border ited from welcoming guests from other ics, some of whom have been transferredprovince, there arent enough of them to closure, especially in the Buffalo/Niagara parts of Canada on top of the interna- from the Lower 48 to various militaryoffset the losses from American and Eu- Falls area and in the Adirondack Moun- tional limitations. This leaves them en- bases in Alaska. ropean travelers, he said. tains, which are popular with Canadians, tirely reliant on hosting locals in their The continuing U.S./Canadian borderArecentreportpreparedbyAlign said Don Bennett, Jr., president and CEO parks, (which has been) translating into closure has not only prevented AmericanConsulting Group for B.C.LA, Destina- of Campground Owners of New York nearly-empty campgrounds. RVers from taking trips to Alaska, but ittion British Columbia and Camping & (CONY), who noted that about 70% of Lori Severson, executive director of has prevented Canadians from doing theRV in B.C., documents the changing dy- Canadas entire population lives within theWisconsinAssociationofCamp- same. WehaventhadCanadiansallnamicsofBritishColumbiascamp- 14 miles of the U.S. border. ground Owners (WACO), said park op- summer, Jernigan said, noting that theyground business this year.But while some parks suffered from erators in Wisconsin normally account for about 10% to 15%Although bookings continue to in- the loss of Canadian travelers, others havenotreported of the people who stay at his park.crease, 2020 still lags behind 2019 actu- benefittedfromasurgeinfirst-time hardships as a result The cabins are usually rented everyals, Align Consulting Group wrote in its RVersinNewYorkandotherstates, of the border closure. day all summer long, he said. This year,report. In fact, the final average book- which helped offset the loss in Canadian However,shehas the only consistent cabin business heings for June and July only accounted for business. heardofbusiness had was from local construction workerstwo-thirdsof2019totalsforthose We miss our Canadian campers and losses in Canada that who needed a place to stay.months. August is on pace for similar re- want them back, said Dr. John H. Shim, stemmed from bor- What About Snowbirds? sultswithcurrent-to-datebookings CEO of the 1000 Islands/Association Is- der closures that pre- Some American and Canadian snow-being at 62.4% of 2019 totals. land Kampgrounds of America(KOA) in vented U.S. travelers Lori Severson birds are holding off on making reserva-On the U.S. side of the border, camp- Henderson, N.Y. But what we didnt re- from heading north as they normally do. tions for the winter season at Sunbeltgrounds have also been negatively af- alize is that there are so many campers Mike Jernigan has owned and oper- parks due to the continuing U.S.-Cana-fected,especiallyinMaine,where in the Northeast who cant go anywhere. ated Tok RV Village & Cabins in Tok, dian border closure as well as their ownCanadians typically account for at least People dont have a lot of options on how Alaska, for 36 years, but this year has health concerns over COVID-19, accord-30% to 40% of visitors at many of the to vacation. Were seeing a lot of people been his toughest ever because of the ing to park operators in Sunbelt states.states parks, according to Kathy Dyer, who have never camped before. Luckily, months-long closure of the U.S./Cana- But while the continuing border clo-executive director of the Maine Camp- in the U.S., the population has been very dian border, which has prevented Amer- sure has prompted some Canadians to18 -October 2020Woodalls Campground Management'