Record Numbers of Consumers Will Spend the 4th of July and Subsequent Summer Weekends In ‘Park Model’ RVs at Their Favorite Campground or RV Resort

Shipments of the Popular Trailer Product, With Their Bay Windows, Lofts and Full-Size Kitchen Appliances, Were Up Nearly 15 Percent During the First Quarter, Eclipsing Last Year’s Record Performance

‘The recreational park trailer business has become one of the fastest growing segments of the RV industry, thanks to the rising cost of real estate and Americans’ seemingly insatiable demand for weekend retreats.’ – William Garpow, Executive Director, RPTIA

NEWNAN, Ga., July 1 /PRNewswire/ — National shipments of recreational park trailers were up nearly 15 percent during the first quarter, thanks to a sharp increase in consumer demand for affordable vacation cottages, according to the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA).

“The recreational park trailer business has become one of the fastest growing segments of the RV industry, thanks to the rising cost of real estate and Americans’ seemingly insatiable demand for weekend retreats,” said William Garpow, a 30-year RV industry veteran who serves as RPTIA’s executive director. “There is simply no letup in demand for these products.”

Indeed, RPTIA reported 2,400 shipments during January, February and March of this year, compared to 2,100 shipments during the same period a year earlier, an increase of 15 percent.

The 2005 statistics are significant, Garpow said, because they indicate that park trailer manufacturers and their dealers are selling units at a pace that will likely eclipse last year’s production figures, which were the highest in the history of the park model business.

RPTIA reported 9,186 park trailer shipments during calendar 2004, up 30 percent from the 7,074 shipments reported during the same period in 2003. Previously, RPTIA reported 7,363 shipments in 2002; 7,388 in 2001; 8,343 in 2000; and 8,161 in 1999.

Garpow said the high volume of recreational park trailer or “park model” shipments reflects rising real estate prices, which are prompting record numbers of consumers to look for more affordable vacation dwellings.

Indeed, while condos and site-built homes in resort areas typically cost $200,000 or $300,000 or more, park models generally cost less than $50,000, with the average price being in the $35,000 range. Most park models are placed on campsites, which can be leased for $1,500 to $5,000 per year, depending on location. However, some consumers also place their units on private property and use them as vacation homes, subject to local zoning requirements.

Some of the biggest names in the campground business, including Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems, which franchises the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resorts, and Frisco, Texas-based Thousand Trails Inc., are also boosting their supplies of park models this year, primarily to accommodate travelers who do not have RVs but want to enjoy a campground or RV resort setting.

“They’re definitely in demand with campers,” said Mike Gast, director of communications for Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America, Inc. (KOA), which has about 60 park models among its more than 470 locations across North America, adding, “I think you’ll see a nice steady growth in (the park model) business for some time.”

RPTIA, for its part, represents 41 recreational park trailer manufacturers that have pledged to the association that they will adhere to the American National Standards Institute ANSI A119.5 standard, which mandates more than 500 separate safety requirements for recreational park trailers. RPTIA assists its members in complying with the ANSI standard by providing unannounced inspections of the units being produced at the members’ manufacturing facilities by accredited third party engineering firms. Members of the association who are in compliance with the standards program have the right to proudly display RPTIA’s gold, blue and green oval seal, which is typically placed adjacent to the primary entrance to the recreational park trailer.

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