Countdown to camping season: Manitoba parks, business owners expect big demand
Demand for campsites, cabins, canoes expected ahead of another pandemic summer
With travel restrictions still in place and warmer weather on the horizon, the race to secure camping gear, campsites and cabin rentals in Manitoba is already on.
"We expect it to be very busy," said Elisabeth Ostrop, manager of recreation and education services with Manitoba Parks. "It seems like camping and visiting parks might be the only kind of staycation experience available to many people again this coming year."
Online and phone reservations for campsites in Manitoba Parks begins Monday at 7 a.m. for group use sites, yurts, cabins and campsites in Birds Hill Provincial Park.
On Wednesday, people can log on to reserve campsites in Winnipeg Beach and Whiteshell Provincial Park.
All other Manitoba provincial park campgrounds will be available for bookings on April 12.
Ostrop said people should consider new campgrounds in the province, and consider booking their trips during weekdays to improve their chances of securing a site.
"We just have to kind of ease up on some of our expectations and be a little bit flexible" she said. "There is going to be lots of demand for campsites."
Demand for kayaks, canoes
Meanwhile, camping gear is already flying off the shelves at Winnipeg's Wilderness Supply on Isabel Street.
"Definitely people coming in so much earlier," said store manager Garrett Tremblay. "We've had so many pre-sales — people are coming in before the inventory even arrives."
People have been pre-ordering canoes and kayaks and some models have already sold out, he said. The store is also stocking up on popular items they ran short on last year — including camping fuel and freeze-dried food.
Tremblay said people are excited to get outdoors, especially with the all the extra time spent at home this year.
"We are just trying to stay organized right now," he said. "We're really trying to make sure we have a bit more of a bulk of inventory."
For Manitobans hoping to score a cottage rental there is apt to be competition too.
Waitlist for cottage rentals
Amy Vereb owns Otter Falls Resort in Whiteshell Provincial Park. There is no vacancy for her cottage rentals from late June to September — she was already fully booked two months ago, she said.
"It's crazy," she said. "I had to make a voice recording saying I was full because people are calling; I had to post something on my website saying we're full because I was getting constant email requests. I feel bad that I have nothing left."
Vereb said her cabin rentals usually end up fully booked for the summer, but never this early or quickly. Most of her clientele pre-booked last fall, anticipating they would not be able to travel far again this summer, she said.
"My waiting list right now is probably 30 to 40 people if someone does cancel," she said.
With the uncertainty of travel restrictions, Vereb encourages people to be patient and book ahead.
As for campsites, Ostrop also suggests people practice logging into their Manitoba Parks account to ensure they are ready for reservation day.