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Get ready for the summer of the RV

Rich Thomaselli, TravelPulse on

Published in Travel News

Some folks, well, some folks just like taking matters into their own hands.

And putting them on the steering wheel.

As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the industry, the demand for travel is slowly -- slowly -- creeping back up again. But many remain wary of getting on a plane, a train or a cruise ship and being packed tightly in with strangers, never knowing if everybody is going to be wearing a mask, never knowing if somebody is unknowingly carrying the virus, never knowing if a flight is going to be empty enough for social distancing -- or perhaps not.

Welcome to what could be the year of the recreational vehicle, more commonly known as the beloved RV.

With experts predicting that any return to travel will likely start with short, domestic trips, the RV could, literally, become the go-to vehicle for travel this summer. Though the outlook for RV sales entering the year was grim -- 504,000 RVs were sold in 2017 and that number slipped to 364,000 last year -- many dealers across the country are reporting an unexpected uptick in sales.

Shannon Nills, owner of Guaranty RV in Eugene, Ore., told KMTR-TV that he sold 52 units the first weekend in May and "that's almost double what we sell in a given weekend." Sutton RV in Eugene is also seeing this soar in customers. General manager Lisa Bottorff says traffic on their website has more than tripled.

 

"Interest has increased tremendously; some people are making appointments, some people are coming in physically," Bottorff said.

It's a trend that's playing out nationwide, says LCI Industries' CEO Jason Lippert. His company supplies highly engineered components for the leading original equipment manufacturers in the recreation and transportation product markets.

"RVs and boats provide attractive alternatives to vacation more safely as families are eager to get out of the house," Lippert told Fox Business. "At the same time, RVing and boating offer a great solution to social distancing for families that want to travel the country and experience the great outdoors. Air travel, cruise ships and hotels are likely going to be less popular, at least in the near term. As a result, the outdoor recreational products business is expected to accelerate."

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo began a phased-in approach to reopening the state to business, and one of his first directives was to allow car and RV dealerships to conduct on-site visits from potential customers, albeit by appointment only and not walk-in. Still, it was welcome news.

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