KOA Reports a Record 57 Million Households Camped in ’21

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Kampgrounds of America has released its annual North American Camping Report, and it reveals the explosive growth in camping in the U.S. and Canada in the past couple of years, driven in large part by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With more than 9.1 million first-time campers last year, one-third of them said that COVID-19 was the impetus to try camping. This growth has resulted in campers booking their campsites much earlier in the season, with about three-fourths (75 percent) having already booked at least some of their campsites for 2022 by early April. In terms of camping behavior, 46 percent of campers worked remotely during at least some of their trips, up from 41 percent in 2020, including 57 percent of millennials.

Tracking eight years of continued growth and interest in camping, and the pandemic fueling a swell in new campers, the 2022 survey found that camping has become a mainstream, widely adopted leisure travel option. Not only did 40 percent of leisure trips result in camping, but 80 percent of all leisure travelers choose camping or glamping for at least some of their trips.

“Our research shows that camping is one of the primary ways households prefer to travel and spend their leisure time because 75 percent of campers say it reduces stress and contributes to their emotional well-being,” said Whitney Scott, chief marketing officer at KOA. “Camping is driving leisure travel’s recovery and its benefits will fuel future market share.”

KOA said that since its first North American Camping Report was published in 2015, the number of camping households in the U.S. and Canada has increased by 77 percent. Although camping grew steadily from 2014 to 2019, the industry witnessed a 31 percent increase in people camping at least once a year over a five-year period and grew by 36 percent in just the past two years (from 2019 to 2021). In 2021, 57 million households reported that they went on at least one camping trip last year, an 18 percent increase compared to 2020 and the most significant year-over-year change since the report’s inception. Among all North Americans polled, nearly half (48 percent) participate in both camping and another form of leisure travel, while about 1-in-20 households camp exclusively as their only form of leisure travel.

Glamping and RVing also continue to grow in popularity. Nearly half of new campers in 2021 went glamping at least once, and almost 15 million households went RVing at least once to explore the outdoors. While in the past, most RVers rented or borrowed RVs for their vacations, 77 percent of RVers now own their rig. Similarly, interest in RV purchasing is high among non-RV owners, with 32 percent saying they want to purchase an RV in 2022.

KOA’s comprehensive report has also broken down even more detailed findings, including sections on the rise of the urban camper; the number of people working remotely while camping; the continued boom in RV sales; how demographic diversity is increasing in the outdoors; and what KOA sees as the future of camping.

Click here to download the 2022 report.

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