Online Survey Finds 35 Percent Of “Winter Texans” Plan To Stay Longer In Texas This Season Than Last Year

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The survey by TexasCampgrounds.com also found that only 24 percent of Winter Texans spend the season in the Rio Grande Valley as growing numbers of winter visitors are lured to RV parks and resorts in the Hill Country and the Gulf Coast

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I was impressed with the fact that 87 percent of Winter Texans plan to spend as much time or longer wintering in Texas than last year

An online survey by Texas Campgrounds.com has confirmed what many park operators are reporting: There are more snowbirds or ‘Winter Texans’ this winter than last winter, and they’re staying longer.

The survey found that 52 percent of Winter Texans plan to spend as much time wintering in Texas as they did last winter, while 35 percent plan to stay even longer. Only 13 percent of respondents were planning shorter stays, according to the online survey, which drew 1,250 responses in December and January.

“I was impressed with the fact that 87 percent of Winter Texans plan to spend as much time or longer wintering in Texas than last year,” said Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners, which markets campgrounds, RV parks and resorts through TexasCampgrounds.com and TexasCabinRentals.net.

“I think you can attribute a lot of those longer stays to some bounceback in the economy,” he said, adding that colder than normal weather in Texas and other areas across the Sunbelt hasn’t deterred retirees from coming to the Lone Star State because it’s a lot colder up north. “All temperatures being equal,” Schaeffer said, “50 is 50 and 5 is 5.”
But the survey also revealed that many Winter Texans are cutting back other expenses in an effort to spend the winter in Texas. In fact, 37 percent of respondents said they were cutting expenses because their income had been reduced, while 52 percent said their income was the same as it was last winter. Eleven percent of respondents said their income had increased.

The survey also produced some unexpected findings, namely, that only a fraction of Winter Texans spend the season in the Rio Grande Valley. According to the survey, 38 percent of Winter Texans spend the season in the Hill County, with another 38 percent staying in parks along the Gulf Coast. Only 24 percent of respondents said they spend the winter in the Rio Grande Valley.

“This survey pretty much shatters the stereotype of where people spend the winter in Texas,” Schaeffer said. “It also suggests that younger winter visitors are coming into Texas and they’re exploring other areas of the state.” In fact, the survey found that only 26 percent of respondents planned to stay at one park for the whole season, with 74 percent of winter visitors planning to travel from one park to another throughout the winter season.

“This survey shows that ‘Winter Texans’ are much more mobile than they were in the past,” Schaeffer said. “This is a group that often travels and is increasingly spontaneous about where they go and how long they stay at each park.”

Here’s what the survey showed regarding advance reservations:

  • 31 percent book all of their reservations in advance.
  • 37 percent book part of their winter stay with reservations, and leave time open to travel to parks in other areas as they see fit.
  • 32 percent never make advanced reservations.

And while 47 percent of Winter Texans spend all of their time in Texas, 53 percent also visit other states at some point during the winter. Here’s a closer look at those numbers:

  • 27 percent spend most of their time in Texas, but also travel to surrounding states.
  • 26 percent spend some of their time in Texas and also travel to surrounding states.

With regard to the length of their winter stay in Texas, the survey
produced the following statistics:

  • 15 percent planned to stay three to four weeks
  • 40 percent planned to stay one to two months
  • 13 percent planned to stay three to four months
  • 25 percent planned to stay six months or longer.

The survey also found that 60 percent of Winter Texans arrive after
Christmas; and 13 percent coming between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Twenty seven percent arrive sometime in the fall before Thanksgiving.

In terms of their RV accommodations, the survey found that Winter Texans use the following types of equipment:

  • 45 percent spend the winter in a travel trailer of fifth wheel
  • 43 percent spend the winter in a motorhome
  • 12 percent spend the winter in a recreational park trailer or “park model,” and use a car to travel to other locations.

In addition to conducting periodic online consumer surveys, the Texas Association of Campground Operators publishes and distributes the Texas RV Travel & Camping Guide each year. For more information about the 2010 directory or for statistics involving the latest camping trends in Texas and New Mexico parks, please contact Brian Schaeffer at (817) 307-0129 or visit http://www.texascampgrounds.com and http://www.texascabinrentals.net.

Brian Schaeffer, Executive Director
Texas Assn of Campground Owners
(817) 307-0129
tacoexec(at)swbell(dot)net

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