The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association commissioned an Economic Impact Study on the RV industry, released on June 7, 2016. The study found that the RV industry contributes about $49.7 billion in economic output or 0.28 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Through its production and distribution linkages, the industry impacts firms in 426 of the 440 sectors of the United States economy.
Nationwide, the industry is responsible for 216,170 jobs, both directly and inderectly, creating an economic impact of $37.5 billion. The full study results, along with each individual state and congressional district's economic impact is available on the website by clicking here .
Fri Aug 5, 2016
Much like a wave, the RV industry’s increases in shipments, revenue and enthusiasm has spread across the lower 48 in the United States, with nary a stone left unturned or a town untouched by a renewed growth in the industry in 2016.
But what about a state that is not connected to the continental United States? Can a wave of growth and enthusiasm reach so high as to positively impact a state whose closest modest-sized city to the lower 48 (Ketchikan) is a full day’s drive away from Washington’s Canadian border?
The answer, from two of Alaska’s RV dealerships, is a resounding yes.
“Business is very good for us,” Great Alaskan Holidays General Manager Brian Minster says. “We’ve seen a consistent increase in the last four or five years in rentals. In Alaska, the RV is the best way to see the state, so business has been very good. Tourism is on an uptick.”
Great Alaskan Holidays is the largest RV dealership in the state, situated in the Anchorage, the largest city in the state. At the moment, the most popular models are shorter, 22- to 27-foot motorhomes.
But being in Alaska also means that getting models from manufacturers can take time and be an exercise in both patience and careful planning. Great Alaskan Holidays has a relationship with Winnebago, where it gets the majority of its motorhomes and Minster says the relationship has been a great one to work with.
“We have a great relationship with Winnebago,” he says. “We have to buy them from them a year ahead of time. We’re also doing it from Thor. Those are our two providers right now.”
Despite having only 11 RV dealerships in the state, Alaska provided a direct economic output of $130.7 million to the RV industry in 2015, according to the economic impact study commissioned by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.
If Anchorage is tucked away from the rest of the country, then Fairbanks is considered the North Pole. Located right in the center of the state, hundreds of miles from Anchorage and the Yukon Territories of Canada, Fairbanks has one – and only one – RV dealership.
Appropriately named Arctic RV & Interior, the dealership has had the same problems of getting new models from its manufacturers within a good time frame. General Manager Kevin Brown says they are backlogged about eight months, still waiting for eight new models to arrive that they ordered in January.
Being a Jayco dealer, Brown says the Thor acquisition has affected them a little bit, because most manufacturers have gone away from transporting models all the way up to the Arctic Circle and Brown says they have had to transition their business into a service dealer, which has kept them going forward.
“We’re mainly a service dealer,” he says. “It’s a closed area here. It leaves us out here in the middle of nowhere, so we don’t generate a whole lot of units. The good news is that tourism has returned quite a bit. With higher fuel prices, we had a downturn in over-the-road traffic, but now we’ve seen a 30 percent increase in that traffic and service.”
With RV businesses in Alaska having to find new and unique ways of keeping the bottom line in the black, Great Alaskan Holidays also have taken on a new spin on the business – trip planning.
Minster says the company is now doing more than simply renting an RV to someone wanting to tour the state. It is now setting people up with excursions, boat rides and other such trips to offer its customers the chance to have a real vacation and see the massive state.
“Alaska is a very big state,” Minster says. “RVing is the best way to see the state. Cruising is nice, but you don’t get to see a fraction of what you see in an RV.”