For the first time in his 34 years’ attendance, Dave Kelly, executive director of the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA), did not have the slightest idea how the 2021 Florida RV SuperShow would go.
The 36th annual event, the first to occur during a global pandemic, wrapped last week at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.
“I do not know if I can say it went better than expected because we did not really have expectations,” Kelly said. “I do not know if we would have been shocked if no one showed up, or if we set a new record.”
With just more than 60,000 attendees during the show’s four public days, overall attendance decreased 25 percent from last year.
Kelly attributes the decrease to COVID-19 travel restrictions deterring less-serious buyers and Canadian residents, who make up 10 percent to 15 percent of show attendees.
Despite an attendance drop, Kelly said most manufacturers he talked to sold as much, or more, than expected.
He said those who attended likely recognized the industry’s high demand and limited inventory, wanting to secure their own unit as soon as possible.
“I think the causal shopper decided to stay home this year, but the people that came to the show, came to do business,” Kelly said.
Though Hillsborough County, which contains Tampa, Florida, does not enforce face coverings outdoors, Kelly said about 70 percent to 80 percent of attendees still wore them.
Everyone wore masks inside and abided by social distancing rules.
“It was very cordial, and I could not have been happier,” Kelly said. “RVers are the kindest, most generous people you will ever meet.”