Camping Trips Are Heating Up

The Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida is truly an international destination.

KSC is the home of NASA and the U.S. space program and the site of thousands of launches, from Apollo 11 – carrying Neil Armstrong to become the first man to walk on the moon – to the Space Shuttles, satellite launches and missions to the International Space Station.

Thousands upon thousands of tourists fly in every year to visit, whether they are coming to go on a cruise at the nearby port or to visit famous Cocoa Beach or the theme parks in Orlando barely an hour away.

But now Kennedy Space Center is marketing something else and taking advantage of a growing trend this spring and summer thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

Camping.

KSC is touting the fact that it is within close proximity to more than a dozen campgrounds and, for a limited time, is providing free on-site parking for large recreational vehicles.

In fact, camping is growing all over the country as more and more families are restricted from international travel and eschew airline travel and cruises for more modest vacations, including RV trips. Sales of camping equipment, including tents and sleeping bags, rose for the 12th consecutive year in 2019 to $2.8 billion. Numbers for 2020 aren’t available yet but are expected to top $3 billion.

The reasons aren’t surprising.

As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted, camping is a wallet-friendly activity, especially for people who already own the base equipment — a night in a state campsite or at an Adirondack-style shelter in Pennsylvania typically costs between $15-$25 depending on the type of site and the amenities.

In the two weeks that ended May 2, Port Washington, N.Y.-based consulting firm NPD Group reported sales of camp sets rose 119 percent, recreation tents spiked 30 percent and campfire equipment rose 42 percent.

“There’s a sweeping trend at play here: From the backyard to the campground, consumers are seeking refuge in the outdoors,” said sports industry adviser Matt Powell in a release addressing the trend.

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