The popularity of national parks continues

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The popularity of national parks is undeniable

Sépaq's ready-to-camp units were almost fully booked during the summer school holidays.

July and August were again very busy this year in Quebec's national parks. However, labor shortages and inflation have somewhat marred the season.

It is still too early to know the number of visitors welcomed and reservations recorded in recent weeks by the Société des establishments de plein air du Québec (Sépaq), since its summer season is still in progress.

It runs from April 1 to September 30. The figures are already looking good, but not as good as those of 2020 and 2021.

We expect ridership to be comparable to this we experienced during the pre-pandemic years, says Simon Boivin, media relations manager.

When health restrictions were in effect, foreign travel was not permitted, and recreational opportunities were fewer, Quebecers rushed to national parks.

This year is not like the previous ones. So far, 2022 rhymes with almost a return to normal.

Like many employers, Sépaq has experienced recruitment difficulties. He missed lifeguards in particular.

It forced us to adapt. For example, it was necessary to reduce the supply of supervised swimming, explains Simon Boivin.

Everyone is suffering the effects of inflation, and Sépaq is no exception. Its spokesperson points out that operating costs have increased.

Whether it's gasoline for vehicles, construction materials, trail maintenance, food sold in shops inside the parks or the equipment needed for activities (bicycle, paddle boards, kayaks, etc.) .), many expense items soared.

Saturday, access to all national parks is exceptionally free.

To deal with this, Sépaq has reassessed its rates. This does not apply to park entrance fees, which are set by government decree.

A stay in a chalet or campsite will cost more in 2023. The new prices are already applied to reservations for next year.

Sépaq is tightening its belt. If a project exceeds what was expected in terms of cost, it may be delayed. We ensure very rigorous management of the money we spend, says Simon Boivin.

It is in this context that National Parks Day is held on Saturday. Access to all sites is exceptionally free. Several activities are offered.

At Jacques-Cartier National Park, for example, it is an opportunity to learn more about the different birds that nest there, the formation of the valley over time, and on site conservation projects.

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