Florida Highways Guidebook Available
Along Florida’s Expressways guidebookDave Hunter, author of the popular Along Interstate-75 guidebook, which takes travelers from Michigan to the Georgia-Florida border, has published a new book specifically for those driving Florida’s highways. Along Florida’s Expressways ($23.95, Mile Oak Publishing) is intended to help anyone travel through the Sunshine State with ease, comfort, and safety.
Unlike a destination guide, this book features 77 full-color maps with detailed information about exits and services for all of Florida’s expressways (main and subsidiary routes), along with the author’s personal observations and suggestions, not to mention fascinating trivia.
Mr. Hunter and his wife, Kathy, drove nearly 5,000 miles to gather material for the book, which includes exit information for gas stations, restaurants, stores, pharmacies, campgrounds, and more. It also indicates where the next rest stop is and what services are provided there. You’ll find helpful tips about what lane to be in when approaching a busy junction and parallel routes that may be available should the highway be backed up. The book also provides specific evacuation information in the event of a hurricane.
In addition to highway information, the book includes a mile-by-mile travelogue that offers fascinating history, fun facts, and details about some of the great places along the way. You’ll also find the author’s “Insider Tips” and “Special Reports” to help you learn more about the history and culture of Florida.
Along Florida’s Expressways is available at bookstores, through online booksellers, or by calling (800) 431-1579. For more information, visit www.floridaonline.info.
Record Year Expected For 2005 RV Shipments
According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) RV Business Indicators report released December 1, 2005, RV shipments were expected to finish the year at the highest level since 1978.
According to Dr. Richard Curtin, director, surveys of consumers, University of Michigan, RV shipments for 2005 were projected to total 376,700 units, a 1.8 percent increase from 2004 when 370,100 units were shipped. In 2003 RV shipments topped 320,800. Earlier in 2005, Dr. Curtin had predicted that total shipments would decline from the totals of 2004, but hurricanes in the South increased demand for RVs, particularly towables.
The report also stated that, although high fuel prices and periods of weak consumer confidence have had an impact on the RV industry, 2005 was forecasted to be the second-best year for RV retail sales in the past 25 years (Statistical Surveys Inc.).
Dr. Curtin also predicted in June 2005 that growth rates in the RV marketplace are likely to continue long-term. “I would not be surprised to report 500,000-unit annual shipment totals in the next five to 10 years,” he said.
RV Ownership Reaches All-Time High
A newly released study by the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center has revealed that recreation vehicle ownership in the United States has reached record levels. According to the report, “The RV Consumer in 2005,” nearly 8 million U.S. households own at least one RV “” a 15 percent increase from four years ago, and a stunning 58 percent rise since 1980. One in 12 U.S. vehicle-owning households now own at least one RV.
A leading force behind the upswing in RV ownership is the enormous baby boomer generation, supported by strong ownership gains among both younger and older buyers. In fact, the study found that high RV ownership rates now extend across a 40-year span from ages 35 to 75.
Those under age 35 posted the largest gains in RV ownership rates during the past four years, suggesting that the industry’s promotion efforts to bring in more young families are working.
“Programs to attract younger owners have had a very noticeable impact on RV ownership,” remarked Dr. Richard Curtin, director of the University of Michigan Survey Research Center, who conducted the study. The industry-wide “Go RVing” advertising campaign, which was launched in 1997, targets adults ages 30 to 64.
Other key demographic findings in the study showed that 35-to-54-year-olds own more RVs than any other age group. The typical RV owner is age 49, married, owns a home, and has an annual household income of $68,000.
The study forecasts that demand for RVs will continue to grow during the next decade, due to favorable population trends and purchase intentions.
Purchase intentions are higher now compared to what the study found in 2001 and 1997. Two-thirds of current owners plan to purchase another RV. Among households that have never owned an RV, more than one in six expressed interest in buying an RV in the future. Among all U.S. households, nearly one quarter (23 percent) intend to purchase an RV at some time.
“Overall, there is a strong and enduring appeal to the RV lifestyle that is as valid today as it was 20 years ago,” Dr. Curtin said. “The latest survey data only adds support to an optimistic forecast of RV sales and future ownership growth.”
Economic Impact Of National Wildlife Refuges Revealed In Report
According to a recent report titled “Banking on Nature 2004: The Economic Benefits to Local Communities of National Wildlife Refuge Visitation,” recreational use on national wildlife refuges generated almost $1.4 billion in total economic activity during the 2004 fiscal year. The report, which was compiled by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service economists, was released by Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton on October 6, 2005.
According to the study, nearly 37 million people visited national wildlife refuges in 2004, creating almost 24,000 private-sector jobs and producing approximately $454 million in employment income. In addition, recreational spending on refuges generated nearly $151 million in tax revenue at the local, county, state, and federal levels.
“Our national wildlife refuges are not only beautiful places where fish and wildlife can flourish, they are also economic engines for their local communities, providing jobs, customers for local businesses, and tax revenue for local governments,” Secretary Norton said. “With 17 new refuges and a 30 percent increase in the refuge system budget since 2001, we are ensuring our refuges continue to be places of awe and wonder as well as economic vitality for local communities across the country.”
The report reinforces the travel industry’s belief that ecotourism is becoming big business, according to Roger Dow, president of the Travel Industry Association of America, who unveiled the report with the Secretary of the Interior. The study measured the economic impact of ecotourism, large numbers of people traveling substantial distances for outdoor activities such as wildlife observation and photography, as well as more traditional refuge programs such as hunting and fishing.
Highlights from the “Banking on Nature 2004” report include:
- More than 80 percent of retail sales came from people who traveled some distance to get to national wildlife refuges and the recreation opportunities they offer. Local residents accounted for just 17 percent of total retail sales to refuge visitors.
- The Southeast led the Refuge System in economic impact. With nearly 11 million visitors last year, national wildlife refuges in the Southeast created more than $451 million in economic activity and more than 8,500 jobs.
- The report shows a considerable “consumer surplus” of more than $1 billion in 2004. Consumer surplus is a measure of how much more people are willing to pay for recreation than it actually costs them.
Using findings from 93 national wildlife refuges considered typical in terms of the nation’s recreational interests and spending habits, the report analyzed recreational participation in and expenditures for freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing, migratory bird hunting, small game hunting, big game hunting and nonconsumptive activities, including wildlife observation. Costs considered in the calculation of the total economic activity included money spent for food and refreshments; lodging at motels, cabins, lodges or campgrounds; and transportation.
In making its calculations for “Banking on Nature 2004,” economists used the Fish and Wildlife Service’s “2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation” and the visitation numbers from Refuge Management Information System. Refuges with fewer than 1,500 visitors per year, as well as those in Hawaii and Alaska (because of their high travel costs), were excluded from the final calculations.
The National Wildlife Refuge System encompasses nearly 100 million acres and 545 national wildlife refuges.
Newmar Names New Vice President
Newmar Corporation, C4363, based in Nappanee, Indiana, announced the promotion of John Sammut to vice president of sales and marketing for the company.
Mr. Sammut began working at Newmar in May 2004 as the director of sales. In that position he has been responsible for directing, managing, and coordinating Newmar’s sales-related activities. He brings years of sales management experience to his new position, and also will serve on Newmar’s executive committee.
CNBC’s Mike Hegedus Receives RV Journalism Award
Mike Hegedus, a special features correspondent for CNBC, received the 2005 Distinguished Achievement in RV Journalism Award from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) during a special ceremony at the association’s 43rd Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, this past fall. The award is presented each year to journalists for exemplary coverage of the RV industry before national audiences.
Mr. Hegedus has covered the RVIA event for the past four years, reporting live from the show floor for CNBC programs “Squawk Box” and “Power Lunch.” His yearly segments have exposed millions of viewers to RV product trends and the industry’s outlook.
In accepting the award, Mr. Hegedus described RVing as a “quintessential American” activity. “I’m covering the essence of what RV products represent “” building of community,” he explained. “RVs are what people want to own and drive. Our great stretch of country between New York and Los Angeles “” the “˜fly-over’ “” is where your business exists and where the most Americans live. RVing brings us all closer together, and you should all be proud of that.”
Known for his witty and engaging reporting style, Mr. Hegedus immerses himself in the most provocative business stories of the day. He has been with NBC News since 1991 and with CNBC for the past eight years. His “Lunchbox” segments now appear three days a week on CNBC’s “Power Lunch.” CNBC is a division of NBC News.
As the 27th recipient of the award, Mr. Hegedus joins a distinguished roster of previous honorees such as travel publishing giant Arthur Frommer; PBS “MotorWeek’s” executive producer and host John Davis; Jeff Green, automotive and RV correspondent for Bloomberg News; Field & Stream editor Slaton White; Washington Post automotive industry reporter Warren Brown; and former CNN correspondent Larry Woods.
U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers Seeking Volunteers
Motorhomers interested in volunteering at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes and related facilities around the United States can learn about such opportunities through the agency’s Volunteer Clearinghouse.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the steward of nearly 12 million acres of land and water at 460 lakes across the country. Volunteers play an important role by serving as campground hosts, staffing visitors centers, conducting programs, cleaning shorelines, restoring fish and wildlife habitats, maintaining park trails and facilities, and more. Although volunteers are not paid, they receive other benefits. A free campsite is sometimes provided.
Nationwide, more than 50,000 volunteers contribute more than 1 million hours of service annually at Corps lakes and projects with an estimated value of $18.7 million.
For more information about such opportunities, contact the Volunteer Clearinghouse at (800) VOL-TEER (865-8337) or visit www.lrn.usace.army.mil/volunteer.
Motorhomes Of Texas Joins Foretravel Dealership Family
Lyle Reed, president of Foretravel Inc., C236, and David Robertson, president of Motorhomes of Texas LLC, C10303, both located in Nacogdoches, Texas, announced that Motorhomes of Texas has become Foretravel’s newest dealer. This dealership takes the place of Foretravel’s company-operated Foretravel of Texas sales operation.
According to Foretravel Inc., the new agreement will allow the company to totally focus on manufacturing motorhomes, improving current models, and expanding its product line. Motorhomes of Texas will serve Texas customers in what historically has been Foretravel’s most important sales market. It will carry the complete line of new Foretravel coaches. With the exception of current inventory and special-needs coaches, Foretravel of Texas will no longer make retail sales or accept orders for Foretravel’s product line at the factory, trade shows, rallies, or special events. Motorhomes of Texas will provide its own service and warranty work, and Foretravel of Texas will continue to provide service and warranty work for Foretravel owners at its Nacogdoches facility.
Mr. Robertson has more than 10 years of experience selling Foretravel motorhomes, and he has been operating his own sales and service dealership for two years, selling new, used, and consignment motorhomes. Jimmie Bergman, an experienced Foretravel salesman, will join Motorhomes of Texas’ sales team.
Creative Mobile Interiors Builds C-SPAN2 “Book TV” Bus
Creative Mobile Interiors, C9705, based in Columbus, Ohio, recently teamed with C-SPAN2 to create an attention-getting mobile marketing vehicle for the network’s “Book TV” program. “Book TV” provides 48 hours of coverage of nonfiction books and authors each week. The unit will be used to promote “Book TV” at book fairs, libraries, and bookstores across the United States.
The finished Book Bus, which was built on a 45-foot MCI DL3 shell, houses broadcast recording and editing equipment. The front lounge is a state-of-the-art studio set with four illuminated poster boxes that serve as on-camera backdrops. Opposite are fold-down leather benches built into copper nebula laminate cabinets. The studio lounge has three monitor trees that hold a total of seven 17-inch monitors that can function as televisions, computer screens, or TelePrompTers. The center of the lounge is dominated by a 42-inch plasma television. For durability, the studio lounge features “Dazzlewood” vinyl flooring and copper nebula laminate walls with Corian accents on the windowsills. Separating the studio lounge from the engineering area are 3¾-inch acrylic sliding doors.
The engineering area includes dozens of pieces of electronic equipment, such as DVD players, audio/video receivers, switchers, and digital editing equipment. The rear of the unit features a galley area with a microwave oven and refrigerator, ample storage space, and a rest room and makeup area for on-air talent.
The unit’s exterior features a full graphic wrap with the C-SPAN2 “Book TV” logo and book-themed artwork. A 42-inch plasma TV faces outside to draw attention and can broadcast what is going on inside the bus.
For more information about Creative Mobile Interiors, call (614) 539-4600 or visit www.creativemobileinteriors.com. For more information about the C-SPAN2 “Book TV” bus, visit www.booktv.org/booktvbus.