Don’t let the hot, sticky days of summer get you down – July 14th is National Nude Day. ‘Nakations’ – or naked vacations, are on the rise and the nude and clothing-optional travel industry is booming.
Although the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) hasn’t conducted any formal surveys of the economic impact of nude recreation in recent years, Visit Florida, the tourism organization for the Sunshine State, has. An economic impact study into the nudist industry in Florida revealed 34 nudist resorts with 5,100 bookable rooms. In 2016, 1.2 million rooms were booked by approximately 2.2 million visitors. The resulting direct expenditure was $4.3 billion dollars, which translates into $7.4 billion dollars in total economic impact in Florida alone.
Considered the granddaddy of clothing-optional resorts, Hedonism II in Negril, Jamaica, has been catering to open-minded travelers since 1976. Guests have the option of staying on the “nude” or “prude” side. The former requires nudity at all times. On the prude side, guests can wear as much (or as little) as they’d like.
“Hedonism II has always been a place where people can let their hair down and have fun in a safe, sensual, and protected environment,” says managing director, Kevin Levee. This attitude of acceptance may be why the resort has a 60% return rate.
Nakations aren’t limited to land-based beaches, resorts, and campgrounds, either. There are a handful of cruise lines, including Carnival and Holland America, that take time out from their regularly scheduled family-friendly trips to host nude cruise charters.
“According to specialty travel agencies, cruise ship and sailing charters are selling out months in advance,” says Erich Schuttauf, interim executive director for the AANR. “Most sail at full capacity, with 30 percent first-time nudist cruisers.” He adds that, “Demand for nude cruises increased from one clothing-optional, 500-passenger cruise liner in 1992 to 65 full-ship cruises, and over 30,000 nude cruise vacationers today.”
Before you buy into the stereotypes, nude recreation enthusiasts aren’t who you think they are. These folks represent a wide variety of ages, careers, and socioeconomic levels. According Schuttauf, they are typically active, college educated individuals, between the ages of 35 and 75, who enjoy outdoor recreation and activities, such as swimming, tennis, volleyball, walking, and hiking.
There are approximately 200 AANR-affiliated resorts throughout North America. Though many are located geographically in areas that sustain them as seasonal operations, Schuttauf surmises that the economic impact of nude travel (when also factoring in airline tickets and rental cars purchases), pushes the figure well into the double-digit billion-dollar expenditure figure.
Online searches are growing as well. The AANR website’s Club Locator section receives roughly between 33,000 to 35,000 visitors per month; of those results, 53% are organic, says Schuttauf. However, these numbers do not include those folks seeking spots to skinny dip, sunbathe au natural, or those who visit clothing-optional and nudist resorts not affiliated with AANR.
If nude travel isn’t your thing, that’s understandable. But for those who like to travel light, nudism is slowly but surely shedding its taboo reputation. The bottom line: If you have an open mind, minimal expectations, and treat others with respect, it can be a life-changing experience. Just don’t forget to pack sunscreen.