Dear Parks Canada,
Yesterday, I saw a news article circulating on social media that caught my attention. It claimed that to help celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, a free annual Parks Canada admission pass would be made available.
I thought this sounded rather nice. It would certainly help spur our family on to see a few more of them. (We regularly visit Provincial Parks, as my camping/roadtrip posts can attest to, but rarely make the distance to national parks.)
So I decided to look into it and find out the details. Naturally, I went to the Parks Canada site. I expected to see this announcement and the details splashed on your homepage. Nothing. So I went to the media room and looked for a news release. Nothing. Then I searched for the Canada’s 150th anniversary page. I found it; but again, nothing. Um, looks like you might need a little communications help.
But I digress. I eventually found out in a CTV news article that individuals who purchase a 2016 pass will receive one for 2017 at no additional cost.
Let me get this straight: People who already visit the parks regularly enough to purchase an annual pass will get to visit for free in 2017.
Isn’t the idea to encourage more visitors? New visitors? You know, expand your customer base. Increase revenue for future years. After all, this revenue is critical since these fees cover the park’s maintenance.
It seems likely to me that the only people who will end up taking advantage of the 2017 free pass are those who already planned to buy a 2016 pass, and likely already bought one in 2015 too. And if I had to guess, I suspect these same folks are people who live in easy driving distance to the parks (i.e. locals). This means that there is no additional tourism revenue sparked from this initiative and a loss of approximately $60 million (total revenue from park fees in 2014) in revenue for Parks Canada.
I don’t get it. Can you please share the rationale with us once you’ve got it figured out?
P.S. For readers who want to check out some of Canada’s spectacular parks, I’ve shared tales and photos from Algonquin Park (Achray), Misery Bay Park, Killbear Park, Lake Superior Park, Gatineau Park, and Mount Robson Park (Berg Lake), among others.