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‘We were up an average of 25 percent’: DNR saw boom during pandemic

DNR says the number of visitors increased from 28,000,000 to 35,000,000 in 2020
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‘We were up an average of 25 percent’: DNR says industry boomed during pandemic
Posted at 6:41 PM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 18:41:46-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Camping World on 76th Street SW has been pretty busy lately, said general manager Rodd Rumsey. With the weather getting warmer and the sun shining frequently, more of their trailers are selling off the lot.

“Volume is up. First time campers are coming out. People that own campers, they’re out in droves,” Rumsey said during an interview with FOX 17 on Friday. “We have tons of traffic and people interested in being outdoors is obviously what’s going on. It’s the place to be.”

Rumsey said they have around 300 trailers and a variety of different floor plans, sizes and prices. They’ve got some made specifically for traveling out of state, and others that are meant to stay local.

When the pandemic first began a year ago, their industry took a hit, he said. However, since last summer they’ve been busy, considering people chose to vacation locally and not fly elsewhere.

“Camping’s affordable. It’s one of the best, inexpensive vacations that you can do. And, you get to keep your vacation. You don’t have to give it back,” Rumsey said. “If you go out of town and you spend that money you don’t get to bring it home with you. With this, you can use it over and over again.”

He said all the activity has helped the industry stay afloat during the pandemic.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources agreed.

“We were up an average of 25 percent. Some park areas were up much greater than that,” said Ron Olson, chief of parks and recreation for the DNR. “Day use, and general use I should say, in totality, went from about 28,000,000 visitors to near 35,000,000 last year.”

Olson said all 1,300 of their boat launches were active, more visitors hiked and biked on their trails, and RV-riding skyrocketed. However, with increased activity came more challenges.

“Unfortunately, we experienced some situations where people would have a picnic and there wasn't a litter can nearby so they left their refuse there, which then it blows around or the birds get after it,” Olson said during the Zoom interview. “So, that was not very positive. I don't want to say that that was the norm but it was more than we typically would experience.”

He also said rescues were up as well. However, it’s all a part of the job. They’re grateful Michiganders are helping them thrive during a difficult time.

“What I enjoy about my job is I sell fun,” Rumsey said. “I sell vacation. I sell family. And, you can’t put a price tag on that.”

***The DNR is also hiring for 1300 positions. For more information, click here.***