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RV show to return to Lee Civic Center

By Staff | Jan 16, 2020

Since 1986, the Fort Myers Recreation Vehicle Show has provided outdoor traveling adventure and family fun for hundreds of thousands of people.

The show motors into the new year at the Lee Civic Center from Thursday, Jan. 23 to Sunday, Jan. 26, where attendees will have the opportunity to see the latest and best camping products available to RVers and lovers of the great outdoors offered by more than a dozen dealers and more than 100 vendors.

Jack Carver, the show’s manager, said he expects the show to be one of the biggest ever.

“It’s not only because of the strong economy and the extreme interest in RVing with the baby boomers and millennials, but its also the best place to see the newest products in our area,” Carver said.

Last year, the RV show was affected by an early rainstorm on Thursday, followed by a complete washout on Sunday that forced Carver to close the show early because of record rains.

“It was the first time in 34 years we had to close the show. We were worried about people getting into the coaches and either slipping on the steps or muddying up the coaches,” Carver said. “We still had more than 10,000 people.”

The 35th-annual Fort Myers RV Show will feature 13 dealers from along Florida’s Gulf Coast displaying a large selection of new 2020 recreation vehicles of all styles, brands and price ranges, including folding campers, gas and diesel motorhomes, travel trailers, toy haulers, fifth wheels, park models and van campers. People can get a simple pop-up model to a Class A motorcoach for upwards of a half-million dollars.

Besides RVs, the show allows attendees the chance to browse close to 100 outdoor and camping vendors displaying equipment and accessories to help outfit RVers or provide information on camping. Items include new towing systems, RV insurance, specialized camping equipment and where to camp. Free travel and maintenance seminars also will be offered.

After several years of record growth, the RV market took a slight downturn last year. According to the RV Industry Association, the national RV Industry shipped 483,672 units in 2018 – the latest available data. This is a slight decrease of 4.1 percent from 2017 and still a far cry from 2009 when only 165,700 units were shipped during the heart of the recession.

Carver said it was an overreach by the dealers that caused the downward trend.

“The dealers, in anticipation of a huge year, overpurchased a lot of the coaches they had on their lot, and they ended up with some excess inventory,” Carver said. “They were overstocked and the manufacturers slowed down because of it. It was like buying 10 loaves of bread when you only needed seven.”

Conventional travel trailers and Class C motorhomes continue as the strongest segments. Even with this slight decline, however, the RV Industry had a $114 billion national economic impact with 596,355 jobs and $32.2 billion wages in 2018.

The 35th-annual 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, January 23, 24, 25, 26.

Admission is $10 with children under 16 free. Parking is free courtesy of the RV Trade Association.

For more info, go to www.FRVTA.org/show/ft-myers-rv-show/.