Delaware Campgrounds Busy over the Holiday
Delaware's campgrounds — public and private — reported being at or nearly at capacity for the Memorial Day weekend with visitors from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland and are looking forward to a strong summer, The News Journal reported.
"They're still going camping, they're just not going as far," says George Kover, general manager at the Delmarva RV Center, which has two dealerships in Milford and Seaford. "Instead of going to the Outer Banks, they're going to Killens Pond or Trap Pond."
During the summer, the Jellystone campground near Lincoln charges $65 a night for a premium site, and campers get access to a swimming pool, outdoor movie theater, snack bar, arcade, on-site laundry, a playground, basketball and volleyball courts and horseshoe pits — along with cable TV and wireless Internet.
Brent Fannin, whose family owns the campground that began two years ago as Cedar Creek Landing, said its bookings are up more than 30% this year, with more than 200 of its 277 sites full for the Memorial Day weekend.
Fannin said it's far enough inland to be away from the hustle and bustle of the resorts but also close enough to Rehoboth and other beach towns that visitors can go to the outlets or boardwalk. Many bigger RVs tow a small car so campers can travel while leaving the camper on site.
"You put all that together, and that's why I think this place is going to be such a success," Fannin said.
RV Industry recovering
The industry isn't entirely immune to the sluggish economy, however. Sales of large, self-contained RVs are very slow in Delaware, even as manufacturers prepare for an upswing nationally.
Kover, the manager at Delmarva RV Center, said his sales are up from two or three years ago overall, but big-rig sales are down or nonexistent. He doesn't even stock the larger motor coaches anymore because there's no demand.
"We're not selling as many of the big quarter-million coaches on up," he said. "But travel trailers, $150,000 and below, we're moving them right along."
Recent industry data indicates that sales of big rigs were up 16% in March. Shipments of more affordable medium-sized Class C RVs — which look like an oversized van — rose by 32% from March 2010 to March 2011. And shipments of towable — or pop-up — campers were up 7.4%, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported.
At Parkview RV Center near Smyrna, sales of towable vehicles are picking up, said Joy Horsey, whose family owns the dealership. She's also seen an uptick in service work, as owners try to make their RVs live longer.
Her family — including in-laws and grandparents — packed up four RVs and headed to Ocean City, Md., last week for a traditional Memorial Day trip.
"My husband and I try to go every Memorial Day," Horsey said. "We make several camping trips a year, and then the rest of the family kind of falls in."
Dick Harrison, owner of Leisure Point Resort in the Long Neck area, said some of his seasonal campers have said they're not going to be visiting quite as often, though they're staying longer.
"They still want to get away," he said. "Camping is still very affordable for an awful lot of people."