RV parks in Yuma, Ariz., are gearing up for the season, cleaning out the pool and getting ready for the thousands of winter visitors expected to start arriving this month.
An estimated 84,940 winter visitors made the trek to Yuma last year, about 1,000 more than the previous season and not far from the record 85,950 in 2007-08, the Yuma Sun reported.
While many own their homes or choose hotels, thousands stay in Yuma’s nearly 100 RV parks and resorts, which offer well over 23,000 rental spaces.
An informal survey of parks indicates that the number of winter visitors will stay on track this year and park managers are predicting a good season, if not better than last year. For example:
• Friendly Acres RV Park in Yuma had only 20 vacancies left in the 450-space park this week. “We’re looking good. We’re a family-owned park and a lot of people come back year after year,” said Cynthia Crisp, office assistant.
• Pioneer RV Park in Wellton reported that all but three of its 326 spaces had already been reserved, with a few spaces left open for “in-and-out” visitors.
• West Sands RV Park in Yuma is expecting to be full again this year, with its 156 spaces already reserved.
• Sunset Palm RV Park in Yuma also reported that the park was almost full with only a few of its 117 spaces left.
This is all good news for Yuma’s economy as winter visitors shop local stores and patronize restaurants as well as play golf, enjoy the city’s amenities and support community events.
Winter visitors also regularly volunteer their time at charitable and nonprofit organizations, schools and the hospital.
However, Yuma Stats is predicting “a record year for attendance but with proclivity toward less per-capita spending.”
“I suppose that’s better than no visitors so let’s hope more in general, spending a little less each, is enough to bring revenues up above past records,” said Paul Shedal, a professional statistical analyst and owner of Yuma Stats.
The firm’s annual September survey of park managers produced “mixed results.”
“Comments from 20 park managers show reservations about average but not below past year levels at this point. No problem,” Shedal said.
“What is troubling are several reports of fewer inquiries. These are the folks who haven’t committed to a lease or made a reservation.”
Shedal also noted a new generation of visitors last year. He described them as “bargain-minded but willing to spend for good value.”
“Looking at multiple trends, visitor spending during early (last) season was subdued but finally came on par starting in February.”
In the meantime, the Yuma Visitors Bureau is starting to the see the “first wave” of winter visitors, many of whom regularly make reservations at RV parks for the next year before they leave in the spring.
“Every day we’re seeing a steady increase in visitors coming in. We expect a larger flood in late October,” said A.J. Mosqueda, manager of the Visitor Information Center operated by the bureau.
“We usually see the first wave in October as the weather here cools off and the weather back home gets cold. Then we see another bump after Thanksgiving and another after Christmas. People want to spend the holidays with their families, and it seems more Christmassy with snow than palm trees,” said Ann Walker, the bureau’s media relations specialist.
The number of winter visitors usually peaks in January and February, she added.