In a Minnesota Resort & Campground Association (MRCA) survey rating the occupancy of the 2012 season, nearly 70 percent of respondents proclaimed the season “good” or better. Forty-seven percent said their summer season occupancy was “good but not a record-breaker” while 22 percent said it was “about the best we’ve ever had.”
Sixteen percent of participants said it was “pretty average” and 14 percent called it “not so great.” No one deemed it “terrible.” The weather and the economy are to blame or credit, depending upon who responded.
The weather impacted business for some business owners, with the heat in some cases sending vacationers dashing to the relative coolness of northern Minnesota and the lakes. In other cases, storms including Duluth’s June flood disrupted businesses and required expensive clean-up efforts and lost reservations.
The economy also continued to play a role in how resort and campground owners viewed their season.
“A number of our members noted that guests seem to still be watching their pocketbooks,” said Dan McElroy, MRCA’s executive vice president. “For instance, several reported that store sales were down, indicating that ‘extras’ are not being purchased or they say guests are downsizing their cabin size or shortening their stays.”
Also evident from the survey, gas prices still have an effect on tourism and consumers continue to seek deals as they plan vacations. More Minnesota hospitality businesses are using discount companies to fill last-minute vacancies. However, a number of business owners commented on how they think people are tired of staying home and are craving a return to family vacations, which they may have forgone the last few years.
Some 60 resort and campground operators participated in the survey, with 43 percent from the central region, 32 percent from the northeast, 19 percent from the northwest, 5 percent from southern Minnesota and 1 percent in the Twin Cities. The respondents represented 29 percent resorts, 22 percent campgrounds and 19 percent with both cabins and campsites.