Friday, June 01, 2007

Campground owners fault gas prices for smaller crowds

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) -- The tourist numbers at Jerry Constant's campground started falling last year when gasoline prices began their annual midsummer climb and were only half of normal by September.

And now that prices are averaging $3.31 a gallon in South Dakota, Constant said he gets upset when tourism officials say such soaring prices won't affect the state's tourist industry this year.

"I've been here 18 years and the traffic last summer was the worst it had been in 10 years," said Constant, who owns the Famil-E-Fun campground near Mitchell. "When gas is that high-priced, it cuts our traffic."

Other campgrounds also notice fewer traveling families.

Chuck Drentlaw, manager of the R and R Campground in Mitchell, said he has gotten fewer reservations from families since opening day May 1. The situation will get worse if gas continues to cost more, he said.

"The gas situation is a concern," he said. "We aren't getting the families like we used to. Families aren't traveling far."
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