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RV show opens Thursday at the Lee Civic Center

January 24, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

After one of the best years ever for the RV industry in 2017, dealers from throughout Florida will gather at the Lee Civic Center this weekend to try to build on that momentum to start 2018.

The 33rd annual Fort Myers RV Show will take place from Thursday to Sunday, featuring 13 dealers from along Florida's Gulf Coast displaying the new models for 2018 in all styles, brands and price ranges.

Folding campers, motorhomes, haulers, fifth wheels and more will be on display, as well as the chance to browse more than 100 vendors, selling equipment, accessories, insurance, places to bring your RV on road trips and more.

Jack Carver, who is marketing this event, said the industry is experiencing a "Golden Age" of RVers, with baby boomers retiring and millennials becoming an unexpected generation that wants to see what the country has to offer.

"The entire industry has been blessed with two generations of people. The economy has helped. Interest rates are still low, as are gas prices," Carver said. "This confluence of these issues, as well as the concern of terrorism has created this."

According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association the RV industry had an economic impact of $27 billion, with the most current shipping date indicating RV deliveries are expected to top 500,000 for the first time, up more than 17 percent from a year ago.

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In 2018, more than 520,000 units are forecast to be shipped, a long way from 2009, when the industry hit its low point in the teeth of the recession when only 165,000 were sold.

For many, RV travel remains an affordable option. According to a study by PKF Consulting USA, a family of four can save between 23 and 59 percent on air, hotel and restaurant costs with an RV as opposed to traditional vacations.

For many, the interest on the purchase of an RV is tax deductible as it qualifies as a second home. With interest rates at low levels, Carver said this makes the RV lifestyle surprisingly affordable.

Most motorcoaches will run in the $140,000 to $180,000 range, with pop-ups, hitches and others running far less. Don't be surprised if you see coaches approach $1 million.

Carver said this has become one of the biggest RV shows in the Southeast. Last year more than 12,000 people attended the four-day event, and while 13 vendors is smaller than in previous years, there will be just as much product as ever.

"Like so many industries, the RVs have consolidated. Instead of dealers having two or three lines, they have 10 lines," Carver said. "Back in the day we would have as many as 16,000, which was before the recession hit."

The event is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $10 with children under 16 free. Parking is free.

The Lee Civic Center is at 11831 Bayshore Road, North Fort Myers,

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