Thursday, March 19, 2009

SOS call for sputtering RV industry

Ted and Kay Watts have been cruising the USA in their 300-square-foot recreational vehicle for 15 years, motoring up to eight months a year while keeping a permanent home in St. Charles, Mo.

"Our goal is to see all the national parks and historic sites in the U.S.," Kay Watts says while hooking up her RV at Cherry Hill Park here.

But with the economy reeling, the two are meeting with their financial planner in April to determine whether they can continue to travel as much, given the drop of their retirement accounts. "As long as we're healthy, we'd like to continue," Ted Watts says.

Times are rough for the RV industry. Tightening credit and a lack of financing options are keeping new customers on the sidelines. Shattered consumer confidence is forcing many RV owners to cancel extended trips.

The downturn does mean that RV prices — which range from $10,000 to $400,000 — are "easily down 25%," says John Mancinelli of Redex RV, the largest dealer cooperative.

Campgrounds are offering incentives to get families to stay longer and urging budget-conscious travelers to try local spots. Mike Gast of Kampgrounds of America, which runs one of the largest U.S. campground networks, says its bookings are down about 6% this year and rates will remain flat for many locations in 2009.
Full Story....
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