Tens of thousands of people have come to the Lee Civic Center every January to see the latest and greatest on the recreational vehicle market, and with the RV market the strongest it's been in decades, that trend will likely continue.
RV fans of all ages will return again this weekend as the 32nd annual Fort Myers Recreation Vehicle Show motors into the area from Jan. 26 to 29.
This year's event will feature the latest and best camping products available to RVers and lovers of the great outdoors offered by 15 RV dealers throughout the state.
"This is the biggest show in the area with only new products. If you're interested in RV's, we're going to have it," said Jack Carver, marketer at Associates in Professional Marketing. "We have a large variety from our dealers."
Hundreds of the latest RVs of all shapes, sizes and prices will be there, from folding campers, travel trailers, toy haulers and van campers to million-dollar luxury motorhomes.
There will also be approximately 100 outdoor and camping supply vendors displaying equipment and accessories such as new towing systems, RV insurance, specialized camping equipment and high-tech makeovers for older RVs.
"This event focuses on the fun, flexibility and affordability RVing provides," said Tom Wegge, president of Florida RV Trade Association-Region One, in a statement. "For years, the Fort Myers RV Show has been the top RV show in Florida and the Southeast simply because of the high-quality products, outstanding displays and cost-saving prices."
As the economy continues to improve, RVs have become a more attractive way to travel. According to research done by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, the RV industry has a total direct economic output of $27 billion.
Shipping data from October indicates RV wholesale deliveries posted 38,765 units, up 14.5 percent over the same period last year. Through October, total shipments of all RVs were 363,051 units, ahead of last year by 13.8 percent, meaning the RV industry likely had its seventh consecutive year of yearly increases and best total shipment in 40 years.
RV travel can also be more affordable. PKF's 2014 Vacation Cost Comparison Study shows that RV trips can reduce costs by eliminating the need for air, hotel and restaurants by as much as 62 percent for a party of four.
"A lot of the baby-boomers have said 'Why go to Europe when we can see our great nation?'" Carver said. "You add in low financing and cheap gas and the stars have aligned."
Last year's event drew about 12,500 people, a good number despite one of the four days being washed out by rain. Carver said he expects 14,000 this year
The Fort Myers RV Show is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is still $8 with children under 16 free. Parking is free courtesy of the RV Trade Association.
For more information, go to www.FRVTA.org/shows.