With gas prices climbing, one industry is booming – campgrounds and RV parks, according to the Wooster (Ohio) Daily Record.
Despite the increase in fuel costs, campers still are coming out for the summer in northeast Ohio, many times staying even longer than before the price at the pump started to inch upward.
“We find people are not traveling as much,” said Ruth Wile, the owner of Amish Country Campsites in Winesburg. “But when they are traveling, they usually stay longer. Instead of coming for two nights they come for four.”
Samuel Hershberger, the owner of Scenic Hills RV Park in Berlin, said he has seen the same tendency.
“They’re traveling through the area, and instead of staying three days and maybe coming home and coming back, they’re staying for weeks,” he said.
Because Scenic Hills does not take seasonal campers, Hershberger’s business comes from overnight campers.
“People are doing more weekly stays and monthly stays, but we are not necessarily a permanent type of campground,” he said.
But according to Jamie Hawkins, owner of Long Lake Park near Lakeville, seasonal campsites are in high demand. Hawkins’ husband, Doug, is in the process of tearing down the campground’s old baseball field. In its place will be more sites with sewage capabilities. The couple built more sewage sites in the park last year. Most of them were sold within the first month.
“It’s definitely helping campgrounds,” Hawkins said.
Last year the campground had 12 reservations in June, this year they have 139 so far. They’ve also seen an increase in the number of seasonal campers. With the rising cost of gas more people are looking to park their RVs somewhere for the entire summer.
In 2006, Long Lake Park Campground sold 25 new seasonal campsites. So far this year Hawkins has sold 30.
People with pop-up campers are taking up seasonal campsites. It used to be a real anomaly to see permanent campsites with pop-up campers, but now Hawkins sees it more and more. She said it makes sense when you look at the price of gas.
“All you have to do is tow it and park it once and then you can drive back and forth in a small compact vehicle,” she said.
The area where there has been some decline is in the number of tent campers, said Hershberger, but on the other side there’s an increase in the number of fifth-wheelers, large motorhomes and bigger RVs this summer.
“When you put everything in perspective, they already have the camper bought, why bother letting it sit in the driveway?” said George Smith, the owner of Smith’s Pleasant Valley Campground & Cabins near Loudonville.
By comparison, camping is still one of the cheapest ways to vacation, Smith said.
“You can basically camp for what it takes a family to go see a movie one night,” he said.
Another way the RV industry is changing is more people are trying to switch to diesel engines, Smith said.
“People with gas units are talking about getting out and getting into diesel,” he said. Diesel motorhomes and diesel vehicles for towing are becoming common because diesel is cheaper.
Plus, Smith said, there are still die-hard campers who will go no matter what the cost.