Report: There’s optimism for increased camping this year | State

CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. — As summer gets underway, many folks are looking forward to the 2021 camping season, which outdoor recreation industry leaders expect will be a success.

COVID-19 proved a key driver behind the influx of many camping attributes, according to the 2021 North American Camping Report.

More than 70% of North American campers changed their camping habits in 2020, the report said, noting that in the U.S. the proportion of campers who camped for the first time in 2020 was five times greater than what was observed in 2019.

As the world continues to deal with COVID-19 into 2021, the report stated that across North America all campers are showing optimism for increased camping this year.

While there are many different ways to camp, RV ownership is up in both the U.S and Canada, where interest in RVs and the RV lifestyle is at an all-time high, the report said. Continuing a growing trend, the report found that more people identify as RV campers and more people are interested in buying or upgrading their RV in 2021.

This trend is certainly evident to local business Alpin Haus. Sales at the outdoor recreation retailer have been strong since the beginning of the year and continue to explode amid the unofficial kickoff to summer.

Alpin Haus is selling more RVs than ever before, with people of all ages showing interest in camping and the RV lifestyle. The business reports that RV sales are up 21% over the first quarter in 2020.

With such high demand, the company currently has the largest backlog in its history, with more than 100 RVs currently on order for customers, who are traveling from far and wide to shop at Alpin Haus.

Alpin Haus General Sales Manager Jonathan Baker’s advice to anyone interested in purchasing an RV this year is to place the order as quickly as possible because the time it takes for products to arrive has increased.

Though product availability is a bit uncertain these days due to shortages and other factors, “The only thing I know to be true is that if you do it sooner, you’ll get it sooner,” he said.

Among the most popular products recently are bunkhouse RVs, Baker said, because these types of models have additional sleeping capabilities for families.

“Nobody just wants to own an RV. They do it for what they can do with the RV,” Baker explained. “It gives them the ability to make really good memories and spend more quality time with their family.”

Whether camping in an RV, a cabin or a tent, lots of families are choosing the Capital Region for their camping trips. The area offers state camping sites such as Moreau Lake State Park at the foothills of the Adirondacks in Saratoga County, Schodack Island State Park on the Hudson River in Rensselaer County and Thompson’s Lake Campground at Thacher State Park in Albany County, along with dozens of privately owned camping facilities.

“Rensselaer County has some of the most beautiful natural surroundings anywhere and camping has always been a prime summer activity for our county residents and families,” Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin said.

“We expect there will be increased interest in camping this year as we begin to emerge from the pandemic. Residents are going to want to get outside during the warmer months but may not be ready to commit to a trip that is a considerable distance away,” he continued.

“There are campgrounds throughout our county that some families have gone to for years. We expect there will be a renewal of those connections and strong but safe return to outdoor recreational activities this summer,” McLaughlin said.

“Camping is a great way to spend time outside of the house and enjoy fresh and the beautiful scenery of Rensselaer County,” Legislator Scott Bendett said. “We know many will be camping this year and look forward to seeing many of our friends and neighbors around the campfire this summer.”

Similar enthusiasm for camping can be found in Saratoga County.

“Interest in outdoor recreation in Saratoga County has grown, especially since so many New Yorkers were forced to stay close to home last summer and fall,” said Annamaria Bellantoni, vice president of tourism at the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. “Many chose outdoor recreation and camping as a safe alternative. Anyone who has a desire to experience nature in all its forms can enjoy camping.

“Saratoga County’s scenic beauty stretches from lakes and beaches to mountains and winding trails. Moreau Lake State Park in Saratoga County offers camping and cabins and there are many private campgrounds as well. If rustic tent camping is too much, many properties now offer comfortable options like ‘glamping’ or cabins.”

Though COVID-19 has certainly served as a catalyst, some industry representatives like Baker predicts that consumers’ newfound love of the outdoors is paced to outlast the pandemic.

“I think in the RV world as a whole, this is not just a temporary thing,” Baker said, explaining that many people become interested in RV camping by visiting campsites of friends and family, especially during times like Memorial Day weekend. Among those newcomers to RV camping are young adults in their 20s, Baker said, noting that this extends the timeline of RV ownership. “We don’t think it’s just a flash in the pan because of the pandemic, we think it’s just the spark that’s going to be changing the whole curve of how RVing happens, not just in New York and our area, but around the country.”

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