The New Hampshire Campground Owners’ Association reported excellent attendance at their 41st Annual Camping and RV Show, held at the Hampshire Dome in Milford March 8-10.
The association saw a 10% increase in attendance from last year, with nearly 9,000 people coming through the show, according to a news release.
This is the third year the show has been held in this location with expanded space. Exhibitors ranged from New England campgrounds and RV resorts to RV dealers, sports centers and other camping related businesses.
This year’s special guests included Gov. Maggie Hassan, Laura from the Morning Buzz and Kris Ebbeson, a New Hampshire photographer and hiker.
Attendees were asked to bring non-perishable food items to receive discounted admission. The New Hampshire Campground Owners’ Association collected 7,000 pounds of food for the New Hampshire Food Bank, which is their largest donation of the year.
Everything you need to know about camping in the Granite State can be found in the newly released New Hampshire Campground Owners’ Association 2013 New Hampshire Camping Guide.
This free comprehensive camping guide about visiting New Hampshire, with 195,000 copies printed, can be obtained at all New Hampshire information sites and rest areas across the state, at RV and camping shows from Florida to Quebec and via online request at www.ucampnh.com/campgroundguide.html, according to a news release.
Covering the seven regions of the state from the northern woods to the seacoast, the all-inclusive guide contains information on 145 private and 41 public campgrounds, including those in New Hampshire state parks and the White Mountain National Forest.
Additionally, there are listings on notable places to visit, fishing, boating, campgrounds that allow pets and more. Also not to be missed are camping tips from Fred Marple, notable Yankee humorist and photos by Jerry Monkman.
The guide was created by Visual Communication Associates in conjunction with Louis Karno & Co., printed by Kenyon Press and distributed by Anderson Distribution, CTM, United Brochure Distribution and New England Tourism.
For more information on the New Hampshire. Campground Owners’ Association or to request a guide, visit www.nhlovescampers.com.
Paul Bambei made some persuasive arguments during his presentation at the Twin States Campground Conference on why campground owners in Vermont and New Hampshire should join the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
But how many owners decide to join the national association after the ARVC CEO spoke to about three dozen of them on Nov. 10 at the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, Vt., remains to be seen.
“He gave a very strong sales pitch for the benefits of ARVC membership,” said Peter Daniels, executive director of the Vermont Campground Association (VCA). “He gave a lot of examples of large discounts for ARVC members. The music licensing was the biggest.”
As he has done at various state and industry meetings this fall, Bambei told his audience that ARVC is creating unprecedented exclusive value for its members. For example, its new music-licensing program that covers the three major licensors (BMI, ASCAP and SESAC) provides enough savings to offset the cost of ARVC dues next year, Bambei noted.
For parks with less than 50 sites, the annual license savings will total $686. For parks with 50 to 200 sites, the annual savings will total $871. For parks with 201 to 400 sites, the savings will total $973 and for parks with 401 or more sites, the savings will be $1,165. See chart below.
The deadline to realize these savings for the 2013 season is Nov. 30.
“Several of the newer members indicated that is something they should look into,” Daniels continued, while not offering hard numbers on how many might join the national association.
Vermont campground owners are an independent lot, as just four of the 70 members of VCA also belong to ARVC at present, Daniels said. Daniels does not believe VCA has ever been an affiliated member of ARVC.
In New Hampshire, where there are about twice as many campgrounds as in Vermont, the participation rate is better. There, about 30 out of 143 parks that are members of the New Hampshire Campground Owners’ Association are ARVC members.
The association withdrew from ARVC 10 to 15 years ago for reasons forgotten by many of today’s owners, according to Gregg Pitman, executive director, but the spirit of working with ARVC is being revived
He, too, anticipates several New Hampshire parks will join ARVC after hearing Bambei’s presentation
“I see the potential that ARVC membership would be to our members,” Pitman said. “All I can do is promote this as a great option.”
Though New Hampshire has no official ties to ARVC, Pitman has begun to collect ARVC membership dues on behalf of New Hampshire campgrounds and forwarding it to the national headquarters in Colorado.
This act puts New Hampshire in a unique relationship as cooperating with ARVC yet not being identified as a “cooperating” state, he concedes.
To promote ARVC membership in his state, Pitman said he will enlist some ARVC members to record video testimonials which he can share with non-members.
Meanwhile, Daniels said the seminar presentations at this year’s Twin States Conference were well received.
The keynote speaker, Megan Smith, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, set the tone for the spirit of cooperation that Bambei brought up later in his talk when she outlined how Vermont is working with other “upper tier” states (New Hampshire and Maine) to promote tourism in the Northeast.
The 2013 Twin States Conference will be held in New Hampshire, most likely along the state’s seacoast, Daniels and Pitman said.
The majority of New Hampshire’s public and private campgrounds were open for the Labor Day weekend with only a small number closed due to damage from the Tropical Storm Irene, which struck the state on Aug. 28, Foster’s Daily Democrat reported
Greg Pitman, executive director of the New Hampshire Campground Owners Association, said, “Labor Day Weekend provided good weather with campers coming out to enjoy the final summer weekend. Our member campgrounds that suffered flooding during the hurricane had worked hard all week cleaning up and preparing to serve campers during the big holiday weekend.”
Click here to read the entire story about tourism in New Hampshire.
From the August issue of Northeast InSites comes this report from Gregg Pitman, executive director of the New Hampshire Campground Owners’ Association, about an effective lobbying effort.
With a very tight state budget, some communities are beginning to look again to the campgrounds as a source of revenue from seasonal campers. At Sandy Beach Camping Resort in Hopkinton, N.H., the campers and campground staff with support from the association, came together with town officials to complain about a new tax on seasonal campers that was implemented this spring. After several hearings, town officials have canceled the tax bills for a year and formed a committee of campers and local business owners to review the situation and find a fair and equitable solution.
The campers explained the financial impact they all have on the local economy each summer by supporting local businesses and the impact of the tax would have on their spending locally. The lesson here is that you do have a voice if you are willing to stand up and share your opinions.
The New Hampshire Campground Owners Association (NeHaCa) and Vermont Campground Association (VCA) met Oct. 29-31 for their annual Twin State Conference at the Indian Head Resort, a 1920s-resort in Lincoln, N.H. This year’s event celebrated NeHaCa’s 50th anniversary.
Seventy-five people representing 35 campgrounds attended along with 13 exhibitors.
Bob MacKinnon, MacKinnon Campground Consulting, a certified park operator, gave two presentations. Other speakers included Laurie Haronrose, travel and tourism expert, who shared a message from the Division of Travel and Tourism, and Kyle Lombard with the Division of Forest and Land, who talked about the problem with campers bringing their own firewood to campgrounds. Due to Asian Longhorn Beetles in Massachusetts, the state of New Hampshire does not allow any outside firewood.
Maryanne Adams, chairwoman of hospitality and tourism from the New Hampshire Technical College in Concord, spoke on how to best handle upset customers.
The NeHaCa also sponsored a presentation by Nancy Comeau with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on how to deal with bears.
The association honored State Rep. Herbert Richardson for his role in helping to successfully repeal the 9% tax on New Hampshire campgrounds.
Six Gun City, an amusement park owned and operated by NeHaCa member Tom Brady (Fort Jefferson Campground in Jefferson), invited everyone to the campground’s Spooktackular event for free.
“Tom promised us a scary evening complete with fireworks so we decided to take a chance and leave the comfort of the Indian Head Resort for a little while on Saturday for Halloween excitement,” Pitman said.
A campground tour on Sunday included Lafayette Place, Franconia Notch; Ammonoosuc, Twin Mountain; Beach Hill Campground, Twin Mountain; and the group also toured a large Christmas tree farm.
Board elections included Steve Hurst, president, Sacko River Camping Area, North Conway; David Redfearn, vice president, Old Stage Campground, Dover; Anne Boles, secretary, Bethel Woods Campground, Holderness; and Neil Emerson, Emerson’s Camping Area, Hamstead.
They say it’s been a perfect season for camping: lots of sun, warm weather — and no 9% tax on campsites.
Campers and campground owners across southern New Hampshire are heralding a summer of exceptional weather and the state’s repeal of the controversial tax, the Eagle Tribune reported.
The Legislature eliminated the tax in April, only nine months after it was enacted to help plug a growing state budget gap.
While supporters praised it as a means of generating revenue, opponents argued the levy — an extension of the rooms and meals tax — would severely harm the tourism industry. It would drive campers away and put campground owners out of business, they said.
Now, a year after it took effect, no one at local campgrounds is bemoaning the tax’s demise.
“I think it was stupid,” said Arthur Colby of Keene, who was vacationing with his family at Hidden Family RV and Golf Park in Derry. “I think it scared a lot of people off.”
Even months after its repeal, Colby is still unhappy with the tax.
“I didn’t like the idea of it,” he said. “You bring your own room; you shouldn’t be paying a rooms tax,”
Colby, who camps at various locations around southern New Hampshire, said he has seen a substantial decrease in the number of vacationers at campsites since the tax was enacted in July 2009.
“Once they get hit with that tax, they’re gone,” he said. “That 9% was crazy.”
Earlier this year, lawmakers sought a repeal of the tax, a move backed by Gov. John Lynch. The governor concluded the tax would not have raised enough money to make it worthwhile because businesses were avoiding payment.
The tax was expected to generate $2.5 million in revenue, but fell far short of that goal, according to Gregg Pitman, executive director of the New Hampshire Campground Owners Association.
“The state collected less than they thought,” he said. “By the time we hit spring, it brought in less than a million (dollars).”
Pitman said news of the repeal brought back many campers who otherwise might have stayed away from New Hampshire’s campsites.
“That’s definitely had a positive effect in terms of campers coming back into the state,” he said. “The word is spreading.”
While many New Hampshire residents knew of the tax’s repeal when booking their reservations earlier in the year, many out-of-staters did not, Pitman said.
There were many out-of-state residents who didn’t know it was eliminated and many others who did not know it had even existed.
“They were surprised that we had it,” Pitman said. “It was the New Hampshire people who weren’t really happy.”
Several Massachusetts campers fishing or relaxing in other ways at Hidden Valley said they weren’t familiar with the 9% tax — never mind that it had been repealed.
“I thought I was getting a discount,” said Tina Fontes of Lowell, chatting with family members as they sat outside their tent.
Repeal boosts business
Campground owners said they are seeing a significant increase in business this season, with some saying the tax’s repeal has made a big difference.
“Well, it seems like it’s been going excellent,” said Diane Durbin, owner of Mill Brook RV Park in Kingston. “It seems like it has a lot to do with the tax. The weather has helped, too. We did have a lot of cancellations last year because of the tax.”
This year, many of those same customers are coming back, she said, adding they seemed to know there was no longer a tax when booking reservations.
Although seasonal campground users were exempt from the tax, other campers weren’t. They had to pay at least a few dollars more a night, Durbin said. Though it may not seem like much to some, it can certainly add up, she said.
“We have a lot of people who stay monthly and that’s $63,” Durbin said. “That’s a big expense.”
At Hidden Valley in Derry, manager Cathy Kierstad said there definitely has been an increase in business over last year, but she wasn’t sure how much of that was due to the tax’s repeal as opposed to an improving economy.
“I think we are a bit more filled up than last year,” she said. “We are doing good.”
At Sunset Park in Hampstead, the 9% tax didn’t have much of an impact, according to office manager Kendra Neville. That’s because about 98% of the park’s customers camped there for the season and were exempt from the tax, she said.
The campground still had to carefully track who had to pay the tax and who did not, a burdensome task, Neville said.
“For us, it was more of a hassle with the paperwork,” she said.
While most Sunset customers were exempt from the 9% fee, they still had to pay another tax that affects seasonal campers.
Hampstead charges its campers a personal property tax of roughly $21 per $1,000, which averages about $200 per season, Neville said.
The town initiated the tax last year and campers weren’t happy because they did not think they were receiving their fair share of services for the money they were paying, Neville said.
“They were very upset,” she added.
Neville said the weak economy also has had an impact on the number of campers in the past few years. But one disturbing trend she has noticed is the large number of people living in recreational vehicles because they can no longer afford their homes.
“It’s gotten bad enough where people are trying to live on a campsite for a season,” she said.
The New Hampshire Campground Owners Association says advance reservations are strong and is predicting a 10% increase in business this summer, Associated Press reported.
Executive Director Gregg Pittman said in a statement Thursday (May 27) that the positive economic outlook and stable gas prices are among the factors in the upbeat forecast, on the heels of good weather so far this spring. May rains hampered business last year.
The organization says there are about 230 campgrounds in New Hampshire, most of which are privately owned.
Some New Hampshire lawmakers unhappy with a new 9% tax on campers plan to sponsor a bill that would repeal it, according to The Conway (N.H.) Daily Sun.
Campgrounds were added to the state’s rooms and meals tax in June. The tax, which went into effect July 1, applies to RV and tent sites.
Many campers protested the tax. Greg Pitman, director of the New Hampshire Campground Owners Association, told the newspaper that his association was angered by how hastily the tax was enacted.
Bill co-sponsor Gene Chandler of Bartlett, who voted against the tax, says there was never a public hearing on it. The main sponsor is Rep. Richardson of Lancaster.
The New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development has launched a new landing page, www.visitnh.gov/camping, that enables visitors to easily plan their next New Hampshire camping adventure, which includes the state’s privately owned RV parks and campgrounds, according to Foster’s Daily Democrat, Concord, N.H.
The centrally located information will add value and convenience for the camper to and within New Hampshire, sponsors say.
“From oceanside RV campgrounds and full-service sites with river or mountain views to yurts in the Great North Woods, New Hampshire offers everything campers need or want in their outdoor adventure experience,” said Alice DeSouza, director of travel and tourism development.
Some of the features and links include:
“We are delighted to kick off this new initiative in partnership with New Hampshire Parks and the New Hampshire Campground Owners’ Association to help campers have access to all the information they need, in one easy-to-use location,” added DeSouza.