Texas RV Parks & Campgrounds Add $1.8 billion To Economy

The RV and campground industry accounted for $1.8 billion in direct economic output and 9,151 jobs in Texas in 2015, according to a comprehensive analysis of RV segment of the travel and tourism business.

Nationally, the RV and campground industry provided $49.7 billion in direct economic output and 289,852 jobs last year, according to the report, which was prepared by Brooklyn, New York-based John Dunham & Associates for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

Buckhorn Lake RV Resort, Kerrville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Buckhorn Lake RV Resort, Kerrville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“I think the value of RV travel, combined with low fuel prices, is causing our industry to be on fire,” said Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO), in a news release.

“You can see it in these numbers.”

TACO represents more than 400 campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts.

The RVIA report found that the $1.8 billion in direct economic output from the RV and campground industries in Texas included $933.4 million from RV manufacturers and suppliers; $424.2 million from RV sales and service; and $397.7 million from campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts.

In terms of employment, the RV and campground industries in Texas account for 9,151 jobs, including 1,761 with RV manufacturers and suppliers; 3,286 RV sales and service jobs; and 4,104 jobs generated by the campground sector.

Schaeffer said the Texas RV industry figures are among the strongest in the country because the Lone Star State is home to Alvarado-based Motor Home Specialist, as well as PPL Motorhomes in Houston, and Fun Time RV.

Texas Lakeside RV Resort, Port Lavaca © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Texas Lakeside RV Resort, Port Lavaca © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“We have an incredibly strong presence in the campground business as well,” Schaeffer said, noting that “all of the major players are in Texas, including KOA, Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Parks, and Equity LifeStyle Properties through their Encore properties in the Rio Grande Valley and their Thousand Trails network, which is very strong in Texas. We also have Legacy RV Resorts, which is based in Texas, and RVC Outdoor Destinations, which has properties in Texas.”

Schaeffer added that the relationships between RV dealers and campgrounds in Texas are excellent.

“Many of our campgrounds have dealer days or service days, when people come out from the dealerships to the campgrounds,” he said, adding that there is considerable investor interest in campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts in Texas.

“Even though there have been highs and lows in the oil and gas business, the tourism element is stronger than ever before,” Schaeffer said, adding that efforts by TACO and others to maintain later school start dates have also helped to maintain the economic strength of the summer camping season.

Thousand Trails Colorado River Preserve near Columbus © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thousand Trails Colorado River Preserve near Columbus © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Schaeffer added that everything from sports teams to the emergence of new attractions, such as Schlitterbahn theme parks in New Braunfels, Corpus Christi, Galveston Island, and South Padre Island, have gotten people traveling all over the state.

But while the manufacture and sale of RVs generate considerable revenue and employment, Schaeffer said it’s the use of RVs over time that generates lasting economic benefits for the communities where campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts are located.

Campgrounds also are diversifying their economic base with park model RV rentals and other types of rental accommodations, which can generate three to five times as much revenue as an RV site alone. This not only strengthens campgrounds’ economic foundation, but it enables them to introduce millions of people to camping and RVing.

Based in Crowley, the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) is the trade association that represents campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts across the Lone Star State.

Bentson Palm Village in the Rio Grande Valley south of Mission © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bentson Palm Village in the Rio Grande Valley south of Mission © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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