Nagging Rains Impact Vermont Campgrounds
The weekend offered some welcome relief for those who make their living from outdoor activities.
The simple reason in a word: rain — and lots of it of late, the Rutland (Vt.) Herald reported.
Businesses most impacted include state parks and private campgrounds.
Attendance at the 52 Vermont state parks is down 25% so far compared with a year ago, said Craig Whipple, director of state parks.
“The reason for the 25% down is totally weather related and it’s mostly day (visitors),” Whipple said.
He said the overnight camping end of the business hasn’t suffered as much because campers make their reservations far in advance and are less likely to cancel their trip.
Whipple added that the falloff in visitors, while significant, comes a year after the state parks set a 20-year record year with 915,000 visitors.
And Whipple said the latest figures do not include the July 4 holiday, when the weather improved considerably. He said that should translate into a rebound in attendance.
Despite all the wet weather, he said there has been minimal damage in the way of erosion.
And Whipple is optimistic that the weather will right itself.
“When we’ve had a very wet beginning to the summer and parks’ visitations are way down, there seems to be a dynamic of pent-up demand,” he said. “People are waiting for the sunshine and when it does, they head to places like the state parks.”
The weather has also affected business at Kampersville, a private campground on Lake Dunmore.
“We’ve definitely had cancellations each weekend,” said owner Holly Hathaway.
The weather does restrict outdoor activities like swimming and boating, but Hathaway also said campers are a resilient lot so many will come despite the weather.
Over the recent holiday, the 209-site campground was “pretty full,” she said.
Hathaway said the campground had some flooding issues forcing the temporary closure of a few camp sites.
Business in recent years has also been effected by the economy.
“We’re just not seeing the people showing up unannounced without reservations,” she said. “We used to have more of those in the past.”
The economy has also affected how people camp. In the past, Hathaway said campers might make several trips of short duration during the season. Now, she’s noticed they’re making fewer trips but staying longer.
While Memorial Day is considered the official start of summer, there is plenty of time to make up for any lost business, said Megan Smith, commissioner of the state Department of Tourism and Marketing.
“I think tourism in the beginning of the summer is always kind of unpredictable,” Smith said. “Once we hit that July 4 weekend, this is when our strong season begins.”
In particular, she said August is the busiest month of the year for tourism. “We all have our fingers and toes crossed,” Smith said.