As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, RV manufacturers and industry organizations are fighting to maintain the recent growth and stability of the RV industry. Notable campground associations are also doing their part against coronavirus to make sure RVers have a place to take their RVs, both for service and as a rolling retreat for self quarantining and flattening the curve.
RV industry giants like Thor and Winnebago had taken steps recommended by the CDC to protect their workforce, before recently halting production. Truma Corporation, well-known in industry circles for their RV heating and cooling solutions, already has some experience with the current CDC mandates through their team in China and is strongly implementing them in the U.S.
The Recreational Vehicle Association or RVIA as it is known, has been working diligently with the United States Congress to have the RV industry included in any economic stimulus packages. Working closely with the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC), and the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), the RVIA is pushing hard for inclusion in the $1-trillion third stage stimulus package.
In addition to their help in the congressional realm, ARVC has launched a series of emergency webinars to help campground owners and operators manage the current health situation. The webinars will provide tools and strategies from industry experts to help campgrounds get through this crisis. ARVC was recently part of a larger initiative that helped reverse a decision in several states intent on closing campgrounds. Again, along with the RVIA, RVDA and others, Florida, New York, California, and Pennsylvania all opted to keep campgrounds open as an essential service.
State campground associations are doing their part as well. Two of the largest campground associations, the Pennsylvania Recreational Vehicle and Camping Association (PRVCA) and the Florida Recreational Vehicle Trade Association (FRVTA) are both pushing back at the state and national levels. The PRVCA, along with the Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association have been fighting to keep campgrounds open. Together they have pleaded with government entities to support campgrounds, even in the face of lockdowns and shutdowns.
Aided by KOA and ARVC, the PRVCA and PCOA argue that campgrounds serve a multitude of needs during this COVID-19 crisis. In addition to the obvious effects of social distancing and quarantining, campgrounds are a natural solution to the shelter in place mandate and dually support local campground businesses. Campgrounds also serve their local market with fuel, propane, and a few essential groceries. For the one-million or more full-time RVers, campgrounds are vital to have a landing place to camp, replenish supplies, and take care of RV necessities such as dumping tanks and refilling water resources.
The Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association has been busy as well. Working with many of the groups previously mentioned, the RVDA helped push a letter to the governors of all fifty states strongly urging them to recognize the RV industry and campgrounds as essential businesses. The letter also reminded the governors that the $114-billion RV industry is often called upon to provide RVs for “local command centers, portable offices, temporary housing and other critical uses.”
Citing a recent purchase of 1,300 RV trailers by the state of California to use for emergency isolation cases, the letter goes on to say that RVs can serve as “mobile clinics, operating rooms, testing facilities, medical providers’ sleeping quarters, laundry facilities, quarantine units or vending, and kitchens.”
The RVDA, along with many RV dealers argue that RV dealerships must be exempt from a mandatory close order to be able to perform RV repairs and service for those whom their RV is their home. If a sticks and bricks homeowner is allowed to have a plumber or electrician make emergency repairs to their home, an RV owner must be allowed the same if the RV is their current residence, whether by choice or circumstance. While many are also fighting to keep the sales portion of the dealership open, most are losing that battle.
In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, the RVIA pledged “to donate 20 RVs to the most critical health care settings in the country, as determined by the Task Force; and….provide an additional 100 RVs, at below-market cost, to the settings deemed most critical by the Task Force.”
The private sector is getting involved as well. RV dealer, industry veteran, and RVACA founder Gigi Stetler recently pledged to supply RVs to healthcare workers and public servants through the non-profit RV Advisor Consumer Association’s coronavirus assistance fund.
While many RVers are seeing their state parks close, the National Park Service has vowed to keep as many of our national parks and resources open as possible. Choosing to modify operations to curtail the spread of COVID-19 rather than shut down parks completely, the NPS sets a standard that all states should follow, but few are. In addition to reemphasizing current coronavirus recommendations made by the CDC, the NPS will close visitor centers and other gathering places to prevent community spread. Of course, things can and do change rapidly as we have seen, so be sure and check with any park or destination you intend to visit for specific details and operation information.
It has been noted that RVing is not just a hobby for many, it’s a lifestyle. It’s clear that the industry as a whole is taking the preservation of that lifestyle very seriously.