As Vacation Options Dwindle, RV And Boat Sales Up

With more people looking for safe activities that allow for social distancing, RV dealers and boat salesmen are reporting an uptick in sales.

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Vacation options for summer 2020 continue to dwindle. Tuesday, the list of states impacted by a quarantine travel order doubled to 16.

While travel agents are helping clients re-work their summer vacation plans, other people in Connecticut are looking for options to explore right here at home.

RV dealerships across the country are reporting an uptick in sales, according to the New England RV Dealers Association.

"None of us projected it. None of us saw it coming," said Bob Zagami, executive director of NERVDA. "People like to travel. They are going to find a way to travel and RVs just hit the spot."

Family-run Hi-Way Campers in Plainfield reports that after a tough two-month-long COVID-19 shutdown, business is back and sales are up at least 10 percent. About 80 percent of their customers are first-time buyers.

"People are out looking for another way to travel. They no longer feel safe going to a hotel or getting on a plane," said Colleen Botello, co-owner of Hi-Way Campers. "Best next thing is you buy an RV and you go."

Botello said the best thing about the RV is that you can safely distance yourself and you are not having to share space with other people.

"I always joke and say at least when you are in your own camper, it is your own dirt," said Botello. "You are not dealing with anybody else's."

It is not just the open road people are flocking to, but the open water. Thayer's Marine in Norwich says that, from parts and services to boat sales, business is up across the board.

"We had 1,638 missed calls in the last seven rolling day period. That is missed calls and we have four open lines that are going all the time," said Richard Thayer.

While business has changed because of COVID-19, Thayer said that it has mostly had a positive impact on sales.

"A lot of new boaters," said Thayer. "They want to get out of the house. The only way to really do it safely is get out on a boat. Middle of the lake, there is no COVID."

Thayer's Marine and Hi-Way Campers both said that the biggest challenge moving forward will be access to product.

“A lot of our vendors being closed, having to work with new restrictions, there have been a lot of things that challenge how we progress forward," said Thayer.

"That put everything behind," said Botello. "The not knowing, but I think camping is definitely here to stay and stronger than ever."

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