There has been a dramatic drop in overnight stays in national park campgrounds, and especially in RV-associated stays which have declined from more than 4 million overnights in the 1980s to about 2 million overnights currently.
Yet, RV ownership during this period has grown dramatically, now reaching 8.5% of all U.S. households and 11% of the households headed by 35 to 50 year-olds, prime years for families with children.
These facts are contained in the testimony that Gerry Gabrys, CEO of Guest Services Inc., will deliver as the main witness for the National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA) at a hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Thursday (July 25).
This fairly unusual full committee hearing is being held “to consider supplemental funding options to support the National Park Service’s efforts to address deferred maintenance and operational needs,” according to Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition.
Crandall said Gabrys’ testimony will further show that “Private sector campground use has grown appreciably during this period – and private campgrounds have adapted to today’s campers. There is strong evidence that NPS sites designed for tent campers, with no utility hook-ups, no Wi-Fi or dump stations and other factors have contributed to the decline in RV stays.”
“We anticipate a dozen senators participating in the hearing on Thursday – including Parks Subcommittee Chairman Mark Udall and Ranking Member Rob Portman,” Crandall told Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM). Udall is a Demorcat from Colorado and Portman is a Republican from Ohio.
Other witnesses will include U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis.
You can watch the hearing live through the committee website: http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/hearings-and-business-meetings?ID=d71747a9-cfbf-4933-abb8-c86e5335c220.