The 2020 Industry Trends and Insights Report, released Tuesday, Dec. 9, by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, includes data that shows that the COVID-19 pandemic affected parks (some more than others) in a variety of ways in 2020, including impacting shoulder seasons and causing a wide swing in occupancy rates and profits. Still, despite the challenges 2020 provided, the numbers show the industry was resilient and is poised for continued growth into 2021.
The study anticipates more than 53,000 new sites constructed in the next 12 months.
ARVC’s survey sampled 516 outdoor hospitality owners and operators from across the country on expansion trends and plans, along with campground profiles, COVID-19 pandemic effects, guest demographics, amenities, sites and accommodations and rates.
The overall effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were wide-ranging, with 40% of respondents reporting increased main season occupancy in 2020 compared to the previous year, down from 49% who reported occupancy growth in 2019. 29% of this year’s respondents indicated their park suffered lower occupancy levels in 2020, a large jump from just 8% reporting decreased occupancy in the 2019.
Among those whose main season occupancy increased in 2020, 70% attribute the change to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those whose occupancy decreased, 99% also attributed the decrease to the effects of the pandemic.
“Our industry showed tremendous resiliency dealing with this pandemic, but it wasn’t the same across the board,” said ARVC President and CEO Paul Bambei. “Still, even for parks that suffered in 2020, there is plenty of hope for a huge bounce back year in 2021, proven by 38% of parks that anticipate increased profits in 2020 despite the challenges encountered this year.
“The outdoor hospitality industry has been experiencing rapid growth for the past decade, while the COVID-19 pandemic caused a minor dip, the number of people interested in camping rapidly expanded as a result. Campground owners need to be prepared to expand and improve their parks to keep up with this increased demand – and they need to know the data so that their parks are prepared to accommodate a new brand of camper.”