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GRCA sees huge increase in demand for campsites

The demand on the opening day for booking sites was 20 times that of previous years, says the GRCA
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High demand and a decrease in supply may have caused some people trouble booking to book a campsite with the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) on Tuesday, as the reservation portal opened to the public.

Cam Linwood, supervisor of strategic communications at the GRCA, said they saw a surge in demand 20 times that of previous years.

“Typically around mid-morning on opening day, there are about 500 people in the que, waiting to get into our reservation system,” he said, “Yesterday around the same time, mid-morning, there were 10,000 people.”

Between 9:00 a.m. and noon on April 6, Linwood said the system processed approximately 3,000 individual campsite reservations, or approximately 9,085 campsite nights booked.

“When the reservation system opens, it randomly picks people out of that room and puts them in line,” Linwood said about how their online reservation system works, “So nobody has an unfair advantage before the reservation system opens.

“We certainly did get feedback from the public that they did have to wait longer this year, and that was something we certainly addressed,” he said.

With concerns about reservation bots booking campsites in provincial parks to be re-sold at a higher price, Linwood explains the software the GRCA uses for their online reservations blocks even the most sophisticated bots from entering their website.

“From the perspective of our reservation system, it was protected from bots, ” said Linwood.

He notes that weekends, especially the long weekend, were the most actively booked campsites on Tuesday. Elora Gorge and Rockwood remain the most popular for camp reservations.

When it comes to booking a campsite, residents can reserve a spot for up to a month forward and have a maximum of six people onsite. 

Due to COVID, GRCA conservation areas will be operating at 50 per cent capacity and only 50 per cent of campsites will be available for reservation this season.

However, Linwood mentions a lot of great campsites are still available this summer.

“Those looking for the best selection of campsites should consider a weekday reservation or during the beginning or end of the season,” he said.

For those who aren’t comfortable with online reservations, reserving a campsite over the phone will begin May 1.