Optimistic? Pessimistic? Pragmatic? Yesterday I had posted about the future of the RV industry. You can read that post here. My final observation, one that I think will hold true for the foreseeable future, was uncertainty:
Governments, industries and consumers will have to grapple with the challenge of acceptable infection and death rates against resumption of traditional social and business activities. My sense is that no one really knows what to do with COVID-19 and we are all captive to a range of experiments from shutting down the economy to restricting civil liberties.
If you are uncertain about your future, you tend to stay home, to seek a safe harbour. Even if you are inherently adventurous. All forms of travel are likely to be avoided for some time.
That is not Garry Enyart’s view. Garry is the chairman of the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association and, not surprisingly, he is pushing the narrative that the future of RV sales is very positive. People will still want to travel just not on airplanes and cruise ships. Instead, they will want to take road trips in RVs. Safe, self-contained RVs.
I’ve included his full letter below. It is an interesting perspective and I do not blame him for being optimistic. Realistically the road to recovery will be a challenging one for the RV industry. The entire travel industry is in crisis.
Alarming initial statistics reflecting the massive loss of employment and revenue in the U.S. travel industry in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic have only gotten worse, according to Roger Dow, president of U.S. Travel Association.
- The economic impact on the travel industry from COVID-19 will be nine times greater than 9/11.
- By the end of April declines in travel will cause 8 million jobs to be lost out of approximately 24 million for the entire U.S. economy—a third of all the jobs lost in the U.S.
- Travel spending losses are on track to top half a trillion dollars by the end of 2020.
- 90% of travelers surveyed had some type of travel or travel-related activity planned prior to the COVID-19 outbreak and 80% of those either canceled or postponed those plans, according to survey data from MMGY Travel Intelligence.
You can read the 14-page report, The Impact of COVID-19 on the United States Travel Economy, over here.
Most of the online full-timers I follow have planted for the time being to ride out the COVID-19 storm. Some have even decided to abandon the lifestyle. We are staying firm for now despite all of the uncertainty. We hope to return south in the fall. But comments like this one from the premier of our province are not encouraging:
TORONTO — Premier Doug Ford says he’s adamant he doesn’t want the border with the United States to reopen and has also urged people from other provinces in Canada to stay away from Ontario.
Speaking to reporters at Queen’s Park on Friday, Ford said the topic of the Canada-U.S. border came up on a call on Thursday with the country’s premiers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“I was adamant on the call yesterday with the premiers and the prime minister, I do not want those borders open,” Ford said.
Garry’s perspective on the future of the RV industry is vastly more credible than mine however no one knows with any degree of certainty where things might land over the next year or two.
Here is Garry’s letter of encouragement.
Dear Valued RV Industry Association Member,
Since March 20th the RV Industry Association, RV Dealers Association and the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds have been meeting every other workday to discuss issues related to our industry as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. These collaborative efforts made a monumental difference in mitigating the affects felt throughout the industry through coordinating efforts to give many RV businesses and campgrounds the option to remain open as “essential businesses.”
Recently, to prepare for a staged reopening of our industry, this group broadened with additional participants including OEM manufacturers, dealers, suppliers, wholesalers, rental operators, and finance companies. Together, we have shared what is happening on the ground at our respective businesses and together we have navigated public and legislative affairs at the federal and state level and in some cases, county levels. Lately, these efforts have been focused on opening or keeping open campgrounds across the country. On Tuesday, the group coordinated an effort in California that has led to over 5,000 letters written to the Governor to urge the opening of campgrounds with other low-risk places that can promote social distancing. And today, the RV Industry Association coordinated a call with Indiana Senator Todd Young and several key industry executives to continue to advocate on behalf on an industry that is so critical to the Indiana economy.
The data is coming in and we are starting to see green shoots. According to the Harris Poll COVID-19 Survey, exploring the outdoors while staying closer to home through road trips is becoming a consistent desire. Americans are now nearly twice as likely to be considering a car purchase than five weeks ago and over the same time period, vacation planning is up nearly ten percentage points. Based on the early data from polls as well what we’re hearing from dealers and campgrounds, road trips over long haul flights and nature and wilderness over urban destinations looks to be the summer trend.
What started as concern for the unknown has turned into a huge opportunity for the RV industry. We must capture the hearts of weary Americans looking to get out and see everything the outdoors has to offer. Our products help provide travelers with the ultimate control of their vacation, allowing people to travel where they want, when they want, and offer a unique experience that allows us to pursue our favorite activities, and stay connecting with family and friends while continuing to practice social distancing. Go RVing, the industry’s national promotional platform designed to attract more consumers to RVing, and highlight dealer showrooms across America, will drive this home through media campaigns highlighting the joy of camping and RVs.
Now is the time to usher in a whole new generation of outdoor recreation enthusiasts to the ranks of RV owners. They will surely experience what we all know and love, an active outdoor lifestyle afforded by vehicle-supported adventure.
I could not be more excited for the opportunities that lay ahead for our industry.
Chairman, RV Industry Association