B.C. Outdoor Rec Industry Anticipates Busy Summer Season

Share this Post

For the first time in two years, Americans and other international visitors will be welcomed back to British Columbia (Canada) to camp, fish, kayak, cycle, hike, and enjoy the great outdoors.

According to a report, Americans traditionally accounted for a substantial amount of business for B.C. sport fishing guides, charters, and lodges, and travel restrictions for the past two years took a significant cut from their revenues.

On the other hand, the industry witnessed a rise in domestic customers, with many British Columbians attempting fish fishing with salmon for the first time.

“Now this year, where it’s even maybe a little further step towards normal, the expectation is that it is going to be very, very busy,” said Owen Bird, executive director for the Sport Fishing Institute of BC.

“A lot of U.S. customers returning may have booked a trip in 2020 and weren’t able to take it, and finally they can come back.”

In 2020, provincial campgrounds were exclusive to B.C. residents only. For the first time since 2019, they will be again accessible to American visitors.

Due to travel restrictions, many British Columbians who usually travel outside B.C. or Canada during the summer had to stay close to home, and many were camping between 2020 and 2021.

“I don’t expect this year to be as big as we saw in the last couple of years,” said Jamie Cox, president of the BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association. “There was literally an explosion in outdoor recreation in the last two years.”

In B.C., booking a campsite in the more popular provincial parks has long been a challenge. 

Since the year 2017, BC Parks has added 1,700 campsites in provincial park campgrounds, which includes 90 serviced sites in E.C. Manning Park, bringing the total number of provincial campsites to approximately 11,000, and this year, it launched an updated reservation system (camping.bcparks.ca) designed to make booking easier.

However, campers who don’t reserve their campsites months in advance can still find themselves out of luck, especially on long weekends in the more popular campgrounds.

Fortunately, there are over 400 private campgrounds in B.C., representing about 22,500 campsites. 

Private campgrounds can be profitable, especially ones catering to the recreational vehicle (RV) crowd who may remain in RV parks or campgrounds throughout the year, not just in the summer.

Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is the world’s largest owner of private campgrounds, operates two campgrounds in B.C., and Parkbridge Lifestyle Communities, a Canadian company, has 38 campgrounds and resorts throughout Canada which, including four in B.C.

First Nations in B.C. also offers unique fishing and camping experiences. Indigenous Tourism BC lists 11 resorts and campgrounds run through First Nations, like the Klahoose Wilderness Resort near Lund on the Sunshine Coast and several First Nations fishing charters.

An Ipsos survey by the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC has confirmed the soaring interest in outdoor activities. It also identified the significant issues for park users, including lack of washrooms, parking, reservable campsites, overcrowding, and poorly maintained trails.

“BC Parks is definitely not resourced to be able to take all the necessary maintenance or the expansion that is necessary to accommodate a growing population – a population that is increasingly interested in spending time outside in our parks,” said recreation council executive director Louise Pedersen.

In the case of overcrowding at popular parks such as Joffre Lakes, Garibaldi, and Golden Ears, which has caused BC Parks to continue requiring day passes, the problem isn’t too many people on the trails, Pedersen said, but simply a lack of parking.

“There is long-standing under-investments in our recreational infrastructure,” Pedersen said. “Now really is the time to start to invest more in garbage containers, signage, outhouses, more and improved trails, and more opportunities for camping.”

This story originally appeared on BIV.

Related Posts