Posts Tagged ‘Northwest Florida’

Gulf Coast RV Park in Navarre FL

Gulf Coast RV Park in Navarre FL

The Belchers sold their brick-and-mortar home in 2006, giving it up for a life on the road in their 40-foot Cruise Air XL recreational vehicle. They are spending six months, December through May, at the St. Rosa RV Resort in Navarre, Florida.

“It’s got everything you could possibly want here,” said Steve Belcher, 63 and a retired school teacher. “It’s got shops, beautiful beaches, the water is gorgeous. You get sunsets and sunrises from the same spot. You can’t ask for anything better.”

The Belchers are among the hundreds of winter tourists who occupy the campgrounds, condominiums and hotels of Northwest Florida, many of them for several months, in an attempt to flee the cold weather and winter utility bills of the colder areas of the U.S. and Canada.

Snowbirds start arriving every year as early as November, but local tourism experts and business people say January is the busiest time for their arrival. Generally, they say the snowbird season continues until spring breakers arrive in March and April.

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MIRAMAR BEACH FLA — Local RV parks and campgrounds have been hit hard as tourists who would normally spend their summer vacationing in Northwest Florida have decided to travel elsewhere.

“Lately, the last couple of months, the reservations have not been coming in as much, the cancellations have been crazy and we’re off 50 percent,” said Pat O’Neill, general manager of Camping on the Gulf in Walton County. “I’m normally turning people away (this time of year).
“The phones are ringing like crazy,” O’Neill added. “We’re actually busier than normal phone-wise. But it’s questions and reservations and cancellations, whereas normally it’s just reservations.”
While RV parks and campgrounds near the Gulf of Mexico have been the most impacted, nearly all locations in the Florida panhandle have seen a reduction in their occupancy, said Bobby Cornwell, executive director of the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.
“Obviously it’s had an impact on the campgrounds, especially in the Destin, Panama City, Fort Walton area,” Cornwell said. “Their occupancy is averaging between 30 and 50 percent, and usually this time of year they’re full and turning customers away. It really has unfortunately had a big impact.”
Cornwell said a lot of campers who would normally come to Northwest Florida during the summer have traveled to South Florida instead. Some parks in parts of the state unaffected by the spill have seen up to 30 percent increases on their occupancy, he said.

Local RV parks and campgrounds have been hit equally hard, as tourists who would normally spend their summer vacationing in Northwest Florida have decided to travel elsewhere.

“Lately, the last couple of months, the reservations have not been coming in as much, the cancellations have been crazy and we’re off 50 percent,” said Pat O’Neill, general manager of Camping on the Gulf in Walton County. “I’m normally turning people away (this time of year).

“The phones are ringing like crazy,” O’Neill added. “We’re actually busier than normal phone-wise. But it’s questions and reservations and cancellations, whereas normally it’s just reservations.”
While RV parks and campgrounds near the Gulf of Mexico have been the most impacted, nearly all locations in the Florida panhandle have seen a reduction in their occupancy, said Bobby Cornwell, executive director of the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

“Obviously it’s had an impact on the campgrounds, especially in the Destin, Panama City, Fort Walton area,” Cornwell said. “Their occupancy is averaging between 30 and 50 percent, and usually this time of year they’re full and turning customers away. It really has unfortunately had a big impact.”

Cornwell said a lot of campers who would normally come to Northwest Florida during the summer have traveled to South Florida instead. Some parks in parts of the state unaffected by the spill have seen up to 30 percent increases on their occupancy, he said.

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