Island campgrounds are packed with people taking in the great outdoors this summer, but try to book one now for almost any weekend this summer and you’re likely to be told the spots have all been taken.
The demand for camping has skyrocketed on the Island and right across BC and with the online booking system it means business is grabbing up some of those spots before locals ever get around to.
The joys of unplugging and old time camping traditions brings Vern Cornforth’s family and friends to Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park Campground in Parksville every July 1st long weekend .
“We try to get the same spots every year. We enjoy the set up and yeah it’s great,” says the Victoria father.
But the fun starts when they get here. Booking campsites in BC has become highly competitive, and booked months ahead of time to avoid disappointment. As demand for provincial campground spots soars and supply is gobbled up online by vacation businesses, that then sell off spots to European visitors at a two to three times markup.
“A lot of locals, a lot of people from Parksville & Nanaimo but we get a substantial amount of people from Europe mostly in Germany and the Netherlands. I think it’s increasing every year,” says Nick Everett, Manager of Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park campground.
The BC Ministry of Environment says this will be a record year for the BC Parks Reservation system. Bookings are up 80 per cent over the last five years.
“Oh it’s booming. Yeah it’s very good at this time of year,” says Everett.
The province says it is investigating complaints about campsite scalping by tour companies, but says their figures show only one per cent of reservations now come from commercial operators. Though there’s concern among campers that could grow. Leaving the other 99 per cent still to people trying to stretch their dollar.
Finding priceless summer fun, that they don’t have to work all winter to pay off.