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N.S. provincial parks see jump in local visitors, camp nights

Thursday, November 19th 2020, 12:14 pm - Nova Scotians made up nearly all the camp bookings this year.

More Nova Scotians headed to the woods this summer as the pandemic kept people close to home.

According to new provincial park numbers for 2020, there were more than 247,000 visitors at camping parks and over one million at day-use parks. The 2019 season totalled about 220,000 visitors.

The number of campsite night bookings in provincial campgrounds this year jumped up to 80,583 which was a slight increase over 2019 when there were 79,738 camper nights.

Lands and Forestry Minister Derek Mombourquette told CBC News he was very happy to see the increase despite measures that had to be put in place for social distancing.


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"It's so great to see that Nova Scotia took advantage of the beautiful communities in which we live," he said.

"Eventually we'll be on the back end of COVID. We're not yet."

These high numbers were achieved even though the season started with about 30 per cent of campsites closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional sites opened in mid-July, but more than 100 sites were closed all season.

MORE THAN 90 PER CENT OF VISITORS FROM NOVA SCOTIA

In another change, the vast majority of visitors were also from within the province.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions and the formation of the Atlantic bubble, about 96 per cent of campers came from Nova Scotia. The remaining four per cent were from other parts of Atlantic Canada.

Last year, about 60 per cent of campers came from Nova Scotia while 40 per cent came from other parts of Canada, the United States and other countries.

Ministry of natural resources - park There are a wide range of things to do at provincial parks from taking in beautiful scenery at places like Rissers Beach Provincial Park, to hiking, swimming and canoeing. (Submitted by the Department of Natural Resources)

Mombourquette said the hope was that people would rediscover the beauty of Nova Scotia with their families while staying safe in a very uncertain time.

Since 2015, the number of campsites booked has risen by about 31 per cent.

There are 20 provincial camping parks and more than 130 day-use and beach parks in Nova Scotia.

All provincial parks infrastructure, such as washrooms, change houses and campsites, are now closed for the season.

But people can keep visiting parks to enjoy walking, cross-country skiing and other activities.

This article was written for the CBC.

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