LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Several Florida RV parks and resorts that cater to snowbirds are reporting stronger advance bookings for the upcoming winter season than last year at this time, according to an informal survey of private park operators.
Florida's Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds, based in Tallahassee, says many parks should rebound from the slower summer faced in the wake of the Gulf Oil Spill.
On Ft. Myers Beach, The Red Coconut RV Park is already hosting guests from as far away as Canada and Scotland.
"Usually, a lot of people wait until closer to Thanksgiving," said Chris Dawson, a customer service representative for The Red Coconut. "But we are seeing people earlier this year, which is a little weird for us."
Guests like Kansas City's Pam Detrou come every year.
"It's the weather," Detrou told WINK News. "We just love it."
"The sunshine, blue skies, and the beach," said Detrou's neighbor, Nancy Baker. "It beats the cold weather in Columbus, Ohio."
Bobby Cornwell, executive director of the state's Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds, says Southwest Florida hosts the highest number of campsite snowbirds in the state.
He says it's possible the summer oil spill even may have sent additional Panhandle campers south into Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties where no oil was reported on the beaches.
Camping can also be a money saver for those on a tighter budget in the recovering economy. Dawson says that's especially true among the numerous fellow Floridians flocking to his park in recent weeks.
"A lot of our guests are from here in the state," Dawson said. "Some from fairly close, actually."