KOA Forecasts 22 Million Holiday Campers

Campers outside their travel trailer near a rock formation in the American southwest

The Kampgrounds of America (KOA) December Research Report projects 8.69 million camping households will brave the cold weather for a camping trip before the New Year.

The report found over 22 million households plan to take a camping trip during the remaining holiday season. The research indicates increased popularity for camping will continue through the end of the year, bolstering data from KOA’s annual North American Camping Report, which was published in April.

First-time campers in 2021 are particularly interested in trying a winter camping trip, according to KOA’s research. KOA estimated 69% of new camping households are considering a winter camping trip. RV trips are the most popular form (51%) of winter camping trips, though first-time campers are interested in hut-to-hut winter camping (31%) and overlanding (26%).

A screenshot of data graphics from the KOA December 2021 monthly camping report
A screenshot of data graphics from the KOA December 2021 monthly camping report

Toby O’Rourke, KOA president and CEO, noted the uptick in camping’s popularity throughout the seasons.

“We are seeing that new campers are really enthusiastic about the camping lifestyle and the options and variety it offers,” O’Rourke said. “This is not just a trend. Camping’s popularity will continue to increase across locations, seasons and experiences.”

KOA forecasts 44% of campers plan to camp over the holidays in cold or warm weather locations. Popular states for December camping trips include California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New York.

Snowbirding also remains popular. The report found 2.9 million households are planning to spend three or more months on a campground this winter. Public (43%) and private campgrounds (35%) are the top spots for snowbirds.

The company found an overall increase of optimism for all types of off-season camping. Only 3% of camp guests indicate that they have cancelled trips. Although COVID-19 concerns and increases in gas prices and the cost of goods and service still are impacting camper’s travel plans, the overall impact has decreased drastically.

“Not only are people camping, they are less resistant to outside forces when considering trips,” O’Rourke said. “Other sectors of the travel industry are feeling the effects of COVID-19 and inflation in a way that is not impacting camping. People are eager to vacation and their choosing to camp.”

According to KOA’s latest projections, over 56 million households are projected to camp in 2021, compared with 48.2 million in 2020 – a 16% increase. An estimated 9.16 million households will have camped for the first time this year. When added to the 10.1 million first-time campers in 2020, over 19.2 million households will have joined the camping lifestyle in the last two years.

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