Craig Kirby is president of the RV Industry Association.
Good Afternoon Members,
I could not be more thrilled to be writing you today after the historic week we have had! Fresh off the heels of reporting that wholesale shipments of RVs posted their highest monthly total since October 2018, on Tuesday, August 4, the President signed into law the Great American Outdoors Act, the most significant investment in our parks in six decades and the largest infusion of funding our National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and other federal and state land agencies have ever seen.
This has been an industry goal for years and it took accomplishing many seemingly small steps over time combined with dedicated persistence and hard work to make it happen. You also played a major role in the effort by sending countless letters to Congress in support of the law.
If you are not aware of the law’s significance, here are the highlights:
The Great American Outdoors Act directly addresses the issue of our massive public-land maintenance backlog by establishing The National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund which will receive $9.5 billion over the next five years to be divided among federal land management agencies to assist in park maintenance, addressing closed trails, out-of-service restrooms, campgrounds in poor conditions, and impassable roads that are only a few of the barriers that RVers currently face. The law also guarantees $900 million per year in perpetuity for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, to provide state and federal financial assistance for enhancing access to national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands and creating and improving recreational areas, trails, campgrounds and waterways for paddling, hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching.
To commemorate President Trump’s signing of the Great American Outdoors Act, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced that each year, August 4th will be designated as “Great American Outdoors Day,” a fee-free day for access to our public lands. RV Industry Association government affairs staff were some of the select few invited to attend the DOI reception where this proclamation was made. Having a seat at this exclusive table with Secretary Bernhardt has already presented the opportunity to deliver our ideas on how best to allocate funding to parks and campgrounds to support the influx of RVers.
Summer is now in full swing and Americans who are eager to travel but wary of hotels, airplanes and restaurants are taking their homes with them to satisfy their wanderlust. Dealer lots are packed with first-time and younger buyers and media coverage continues to be extremely positive. In fact, our Association’s PR efforts have directly placed 149 stories on national and local media in the last 143 days, leading to hundreds of millions of impressions and unprecedented national industry buzz. As more companies extend telework and schools go online in the fall, we could be seeing work and school from the road as a major driving factor in continued market growth.
Next week the RV Industry Association will be presenting three days of virtual programming for the RV Aftermarket. While we were forced to make a difficult decision in the cancellation of the RV Aftermarket Conference, which would have been its 50th anniversary, I’m extremely pleased how members and staff have worked together to deliver timely information designed to help better understand, connect with and serve the RV customer. With more and more RVers joining our family every day, keeping the focus on delivering an exceptional customer experience could not be any more critical.
Finally, as members of the RV Industry Association you have access to a wealth of resources, research and data through our signature programs. I encourage you to set up a Zoom meeting with our membership department to hear first-hand about what your membership entails and the RV Industry Association’s latest activities. Please reach out to Bill Baker, Senior Director, Membership and Research to schedule a meeting. While we have not been able to visit with you in-person, which is our preference, this is an excellent way we can keep in touch during these times.
Enjoy the weekend knowing our future is bright!