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KOA Report Chronicles Camping Trends


Every year in May, the KOA, or Kampgrounds of America Inc., publishes its annual North American Camping Report. This report is created every year by Scott Bahr, who is part of the Cairn Consulting Group. The entire report is filled with statistics, as well as many different key features of RV parks and campgrounds within every state. Owners utilize this report as they are looking towards the future and the new amenities they might consider offering.

However, with COVID-19, this camping season and future camping seasons may look very different than those from the past. Therefore, the KOA and Scott Bahr went back to the drawing board with their report to address the numerous new questions that were going to pop up in regards to the virus.

According to Toby O’Rourke, the CEO and President of KOA, “We wanted to explore the camper mindset and understand what their feelings and intentions are when it comes to camping as more restrictions are lifted. We wanted to know where their comfort level is at and how they feel about camping in the terms of safety.”

The results of all those new questions are part of The Special Report: North American Camping and the Effects of COVID-19. While the old report is normally focused on campers, it is also helpful for those non-campers who may look at camping in a new way.

According to the report, 42 million households go camping every year, which is a 31% increase since 2014. Back in 2019, 2.7 million new households went camping that year for an increase of 9%. O’Rourke says, “Our data shows that 64% of households, or 82.3 million, considered themselves campers in 2019, a 2% increase from 2018. We have also seen an 82% growth in campers who are camping three-plus times a year. With the COVID-19 crisis we could see those numbers increase, but that depends on what happens over the next six months or so.”

Currently, one-third of non-campers are now interested in camping thanks to all the insecurity of regular travel due to COVID-19.

One of the most important parts of this report is that while 21% of households have cancelled their camping trips, 41% of households have simply postponed them. That is excellent news for the camping industry, which seems to continue to grow every year.

As of now, camping is being designated as the safest form of travel when compared to staying with friends and family, and at hotels and resorts. To put this into perspective, the people saying that camping is the safest way to travel now are as follows:

·      50% campers

·      40% non-campers

·      45% leisure travelers

When asked about the ranking of camping as being the safest way to travel, O’Rourke said, “This is one of the most important pieces of data in the report. We asked about a ton of different things, and we are never going to be able to guarantee complete safety at a campground, but to see camping ranked so high is positive as individuals begin to look at traveling again as restrictions are lifted.”

Other numbers of interest in this report are:

47% of campers will be replacing a canceled trip with a camping trip, while 30%
of leisure travelers have the same plans.
28% of campers are replacing their canceled trips with road trips, while 30% of
leisure travelers are going to do the same thing.

One in five campers would be out camping now if they could, while 29% of campers are ready to camp within one month of restrictions being lifted in their areas.

When it comes to barriers for camping between 19% and 26% of campers state that work status and finances could prevent them from camping. However, since camping is affordable, most campers would choose camping over another type of trip if their finances allowed.

Group camping trips will be going down with 31% of people planning on camping with only two people and 36% camping with between three and five people who would most likely be all family members.

Most campers will choose to camp closer to home and 68% will choose less crowded campgrounds.

63% of campers, and 44% of potentially new campers, say that having an RV with a bathroom or an option of a cabin with a bathroom will influence where they camp.

The importance of a bathroom means that 41% of Gen Xers and 33% of Millennials will consider purchasing their own RV for camping.

Between 38% and 45% of campers will extend their camping season if schools remain closed and adults can continue to work remotely.

The most interesting number in the report though is the fact that 43% of leisure travelers say that it is now more important than ever to spend time outside. This number increases to 60% when it comes to the importance of children spending time outdoors.

Camping has always been a fun way to vacation with family, but COVID-19 is bringing this form of travel into a new light for many people. The North American Camping Report highlights the benefits of camping, as well as all the statistics that many campers, and campground owners, need to be aware of. While no one knows for certain what the future will truly bring with camping, this report gives everyone an excellent idea of what that future will look like.