RVIA’s Jay Landers testifies before a Congressional subcommittee.

Jay Landers, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) vice president of government affairs, testified before Congress Thursday (April 27) on the $50 billion economic impact of the recreation vehicle (RV) industry, according to an RVIA announcement.

Throughout the hearing, held by the Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Landers highlighted the growth and expansion the RV industry is experiencing, including the 290,000 jobs the industry supports and the challenge to fill the new jobs the industry is creating. In their opening statements, many committee members recalled wonderful experiences vacationing in RVs.

During his testimony, Landers noted the steep drop-off in overnight stays at national parks from 4.5 million in the 1980s to less than 2 million in 2013. When asked by Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., vice chairman of the subcommittee, about whether development of private campgrounds is contributing to the reduction in stays at national parks, Landers answered that it is not only private campgrounds that are investing heavily in modernizing campgrounds, but many state campgrounds are as well.

“Many states are investing heavily in their parks because they recognize they are a profit center,” Landers said. “The states are doing the right thing and private campgrounds are all over this, but at the national level, the parks need help. Public-private partnerships could help the national parks compete at a faster pace.”

As part of the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable, RVIA said it wants to work with Congress and the federal agencies to ensure reasonable access for recreation on public lands, to establish a system of public-private partnerships, and to create a “culture of yes” in the federal land agencies.

Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-Ind, a House RV Caucus member, praised the RV industry and noted that it had just seen the best performance in 40 years. Bucshon also asked what government barriers Congress could remove in order to help advance and expand the RV industry. Landers responded that RVIA is very interested in autonomous vehicle technology and looks forward to working with Congress and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) in this area.

“Everyone has this image of wouldn’t it be fabulous to get in an RV, preprogram it and go in the back and have a sandwich and watch the game.” Landers said. “We aren’t quite there yet but we’re on the way. We want to work with Congress, NHTSA, everybody.” 

In addition to Landers, the panel included Jeffrey Tooze, vice president of global customs and trade with Columbia Sportswear, Ginger Mihalik, executive director of the Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School, Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association, Jeremy Jones, founder and president ofProtect Our Winters and Marc Berejka, director of government and community affairs for REI.

View the entire hearing on the Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee’s website: https://energycommerce.house.gov/hearings-and-votes/hearings/outdoor-recreation-vast-impact-great-outdoors.