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Despite Wild Weather, Campgrounds Stay Busy

Camping remains a popular activity in 2012

Despite omnipresent forest fires in the West that rousted countless campers, record drought across much of the U.S. that dried up recreational lakes, ponds and rivers and a late-summer hurricane in the Gulf, the summer camping season that limped along in many areas seemed to finish on a positive note.

That’s one take on how business is evolving, based on reports gathered by Woodall’s Campground Management.

The two biggest names in camping, Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), franchisor of the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, each reported seasonal upturns.

Advanced reservations for the 2012 Labor Day Weekend holiday were about 2.5% ahead of the same period in 2011 according to KOA, the world’s largest system of family-oriented campgrounds.

In fact, KOA was running more than 2% ahead of 2011 year-to-date in the number of short-term camper nights in the system as the summer ended.

Even with the unusual camping patterns caused by a Wednesday, July 4 holiday, we continue to have a very strong summer camping season,” said KOA President Pat Hittmeier. “Campers continue to show their love for our Deluxe Camping Cabins, which were up nearly 17 percent in camper nights last week alone. Our campground owners continue to add Deluxe Cabins and other amenities to their inventories, and that is exactly what our campers are looking for.”

KOA’s advanced reservations for the rest of the summer were still running more than 5.5% ahead of the same period in 2011.

Overall, on a same-campground basis, revenues are up about 4.5% over 2011, he said.

Meanwhile, at LSI, same-park revenue was up a little over 9% through the end of August compared to the same time last year, reported Rob Schutter Jr., LSI president and COO. Occupancy was up around 4%.

Like at KOA, “rental units continued to be the main driving force behind the increased occupancies at the parks,” Schutter said, showing a 12% increase in park model lodge and cabin occupancies over last year.

Parks that offer RV rentals, typically travel trailers, reported a whopping 80% increase over a year ago, he added.

To read the entire article in Woodall’s Campground Management click here.

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