Quebeckers Crazy About Camping

The popularity of camping in Quebec has exploded over the last  10 years. Unable to afford often overpriced cabins, in search of tranquility or a place to spend family holidays at reasonable prices, more and more Quebeckers are camping.

Between 2006 and 2016, the number of sites occupied in campgrounds increased by 23%. Some regions have seen spectacular increases, according to Tourism Québec figures. This is the case of Lanaudière, which saw the number of daily campers climb from 2246 to reach 7738, the largest increase in the province. On the other hand, it is still the Montérégie which occupies the top of the pavement with 14,621 land occupied in 2016.

“There is an increase in attendance. We had a record crowd last year and the current season is exceptional, “said Chantal Lemire, director of customer service at Oka National Park. Although the campsite has 891 sites, it is not uncommon for all land serviced to be reserved on weekends.

At Camping Vacances St-Tropez in Sainte-Béatrix, the owner says she refuses up to 1000 customers during busy weekends such as Saint-Jean-Baptiste. “The industry has made a big leap in recent years,” confirms Johanne Durand.

Luxurious

At Camping Québec, it is indicated that several factors are involved in the increase in land use for 10 years. Many homeowners have invested in playgrounds, pools and other attractions to attract young families.

“Young people are as interested in camping as they are in previous generations. There are many former campers who have come as children and come back with their children, “says Camping Québec’s deputy director Louis Jean.

The number of seasonal campers is also increasing and now represents more than half of the campers. According to Ms. Durand, the clientele has evolved in the last few years. There are now many more business people and even doctors and lawyers. The guests have more comfortable and often more luxurious facilities.

“Some would have the means to have a cottage, but they like the social side of the campsite,” she says.

“People want to have comfort,” confirms Yves Gingras, Camping Domaine du Dream in Sainte-Angèle-de-Monnoir. In addition to the services, the owners have invested in a swimming pool this year, and water games to appeal to families, which represent about 70% of the clientele.

Difficult start

That said, the start of the 2017 season has not been easy for several campsites because of the weather. According to an in-house survey by Camping Québec, 40% of homeowners had to face a decline in attendance compared to last year for the first half of the season.

However, the situation is expected to improve by the end of the season as 26% of respondents to the Camping Québec survey said they had more reservations for the month of August than for the same month, Last year.

Tranquility sought

While all campsites saw their attendance increase between 2015 and 2016, it was the smallest ones that experienced the biggest increase. During this period, campsites with less than 39 sites saw their occupancy rate jump by more than 11%. This increase is not unrelated to the growing popularity of the tent and the search for tranquility by campers. “This week we had a reservation from a guy from Toronto in early September. He wanted to get off the beaten track and was looking for a reclusive place, “says Simon Parent of the Éco-boreal campground in Lac-Édouard, Haute-Mauricie.

Ready-to-camp

At Camping Labelle and Rouge in the Laurentians, there is also a craze for sites far from everything, but especially for ready-to-camp. “It’s been a long time since I started it. They are, among other things, families who want to go camping. Instead of equipping themselves, they opt for this formula, “says the owner, Marc-André Cyr. Glamping, which combines camping and luxury, is also gaining popularity.

Sharp rise

Locations occupied per day *

-2006: 66,429

-2016: 81,833

– + 23%

Areas with the highest number of campers **

-Montérégie: 14,621

Eastern Townships: 10,127

-Lanaudière: 7738

-Laurentides: 7354

-Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean: 6676

-6.4% increase in tents users ***

-30% of campers will visit more than three campsites per season

Higher  number of visits between 2015 and 2016

-Charlevoix: 13.9%

-Outaouais: 11.6%

* Average of campers per day during the season

** Locations occupied in 2016

*** Between 2015 and 2016

Sources: Tourisme Québec and Camping Québec

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About the Author: Jim Kim

Jim has over six years experience as a teacher, ecologist, zoologist and botanist. He has a B.S. from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University Graduate School. His professional expertise in environmental health empacts has been recognized since 1973, when he testified at a New York DEC public hearing in Utica on ground truthing aerial photo wetland mapping by wetland community type. He taught (HS) Physics, Geology, Oceanography, Chemistry and photography from 1970-1980 at Palfrey Street School, Watertown, MA. Aproject: National Cooperative Highway Research Program. Jim works as our health editor