Posts Tagged ‘Southwest Florida’

Baby boomers flush with cash and a persistent wanderlust are flocking to Lee County’s recreational vehicle parks in record numbers.

For a crippled economy, the revival of the RV industry with the hundreds of millions of dollars it brings to Southwest Florida comes at a good time.

In 2009, about 37,000 RV and campground users in Lee County poured $228 million into the local economy — an increase of 35 percent over 2008. It’s the only area of tourism that grew over the prior year, according to the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau.

From December 2009 through March, RVers added $123 million to the local economy.

The days of “trailer trash” are over, said Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds. “That’s old, historic thinking. Today’s parks are upscale and filled with people who have been successful in life.”

Lee County’s 79 RV resorts – home for a few days or year round for residents – also contribute almost $300,000 annually to Lee’s tax base from license fees. They add a portion of an estimated $25 million to the county’s bed tax, which is used for beach renourishment and tourism promotion.

Lee County, Florida: Snowbirds have flocked back to Southwest Florida RV resorts, possibly more so than last winter.

And, despite the shaky economy, new parks and expansions are rolling along. These include:

• Caloosa 80, a Class A motor coach community planned for a parcel just east of Hickey Creek Mitigation Park on State Road 80; and

• Golden Palms motor coach Estates on State Road 82 east of Alabama Road.

The latter project is by Harp Development, the company behind the upscale Cypress Woods RV Resort on Luckett Road.

Cypress Woods caters to Class A motor coaches. However, Harp has preliminary plans for a new, adjacent project – Cypress Trail RV Resort – which would welcome nearly every class of recreational vehicles.

“There’s still a strong Class A motor coach market, but there was a dearth of spaces for regular folk,” said Jack Carver, Fort Myers-based publicist for the regional branch of the Florida RV Trade Association. “A lot of people go to the state parks,” Carver added, “but there are only so many state parks.”

Nationally, demand is strong for existing sites, according to the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

“Most RV parks and resorts that cater to snowbirds are reporting higher occupancies this winter than they did last winter,” said Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the RV parks association based in Larkspur, Colo.

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