Several Texas campgrounds that cater to winter visitors are already booked up for the 2008-2009 winter camping season, and many others are filling up quickly, according to the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO).
“Winter reservations for campgrounds and RV resorts in Texas are as strong as they’ve ever been,” said Brian Schaeffer, TACO’s executive director and CEO.
He said Canadians, in particular, are flocking to the Lone Star State in record numbers, largely because of the relative strength of the Canadian dollar.
“Ten years ago, we’d send four or five Texas RV Travel & Camping Guides a month to people in Canada,” Schaeffer said. “But these days, we send 30 or 40 a week.”
TACO reported that some parks are already booked up for the winter.
“We stopped taking reservations two months ago,” said Mac McLaughlin, co-owner of the 129-site Hatch RV Park in Corpus Christi. “We had four times as many Canadians last year as the year before,” he said.
McLaughlin said about 20% of his winter visitors arrive just after Thanksgiving, although he’s already had “about eight or nine” show up at his park unexpectedly. He said the remaining 80% of his winter visitors will arrive at his park just after Christmas.
Other Texas RV parks also said their bookings look strong for the upcoming winter season.
“Our monthly reservations look pretty good for the season,” said Don Temple, owner of 202-site Guadalupe River RV Resort in Kerrville. “We continue to get the unexpected, which is drop ins. We had several people come in this week that want to stay two, three or four months that we didn’t know anything about.”
Bryan Kastleman, owner of Hill Country RV Resort in New Braunfels, said his winter business is looking strong, too, though he still has a few sites yet to fill. “We’ve got a lot of reservations,” he said. “We’re planning on a really strong winter.”
Not every park is seeing strong business, however.
Doug Shearer, owner of the 95-site Parkview Riverside RV Park in Rio Frio, said his winter bookings are down slightly from last year. “We were off in October and our advance reservations for November and December are down. But you can’t go by that. I had a surprise guest show up today without a reservation and he wants to spend the winter here.”
Shearer added that his winter business has generally increased 10% or 20% each year since he opened the park in March of 2001.