Ontarians rush to parks because they can’t travel

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Ontarians rush to parks because they can't travel




Sandbanks Provincial Park remains a very popular destination with vacationers, even in times of COVID-19.


© Marie-Hélène Ratel / Radio-Canada
Sandbanks Provincial Park remains a very popular destination with vacationers, even in times of COVID-19.


As fall arrives, Ontario parks are reporting a very profitable season, which some link directly to the pandemic.

Gordon Park, a private park on Manitoulin Island, says it has had an extremely busy summer so far, due to the pandemic.

Ontarians deprived of international travel flock here in the hope of finding some respite in nature.

In addition to offering camping, Gordon Park organizes astronomy activities in its Dark Sky Reserve, a space free from light pollution.

Although the park received fewer international tourists than usual, Ontarians are more numerous.


Killarney Provincial Park in Northeastern Ontario is popular with visitors looking for day hikes.


© CBC / Sarah MacMillan
Killarney Provincial Park in Northeastern Ontario is popular with visitors looking for day hikes.


«This year we have a lot of people who don’t know how to go camping», dit Emily Girouard.

«They never made a fire or don’t know how to be out in the rain for nights and nights.»

Provincial parks managed by the province also saw an increase in attendance.

Ontario Parks confirms that its campground reservation rate is 7% higher than last year. The rate of backcountry camping also increased by 29% compared to summer 2019.

Even though Ontario Parks does not make the direct link between the increase in ridership and the pandemic, the organization has redoubled its efforts to limit risky behavior.

The number of daily passes has been reduced in popular parks to avoid large crowds. Fewer camping permits have also been granted.

Despite everything, crowds flock to the provincial parks, to the chagrin of some campers, who deplore the lack of etiquette of some novices.

Ontario Parks has posted a series of blogs on their site to educate newcomers.

«We still want to encourage people to visit our parks to improve their physical and mental health,” she says.

Latecomers will however have to arm themselves with patience or determination: many fields have been full for months.

«There is always room for those who want to go mid-week camping in our less traveled parks, especially in northern Ontario.», dit Sarah McMichael.

Gallery: These destinations offer discounts to travelers in 2020 (Espresso)

The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures imposed to prevent its spread have hit the tourism industry hard, and analysts predict a 60-80% drop in international tourism in 2020. As a result, many countries have decided to 'offer original incentives, some going so far as to offer cash to attract travelers, and unusual and enticing offers abound.

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