I saw a report recently that describes how Canada is removing visitor fees at its National Parks for the 2017 calendar year. In addition, they are giving new citizens a free year pass. They are also giving people under 18 free passes.
As I watched the video, I have to say first, I got really excited. I’ve been to some of those parks. They are impressive. I also found myself curious about the economic impact. The report says $60 million revenue loss.
So, why are they doing it? Here’s a few thoughts:
- It’s a grand celebration. 2017 marks the 150 year anniversary of national parks in Canada. It’s the sunk cost of a good party.
- There is economic partnership with some of the businesses in and near the park entrances. I don’t know if this is true, but I suspect that with increased visitors there will also be increased economic benefit.
- It’s a leader. A teaser. Draw people in with a freebie. Trust that they will get hooked and want to come back.
- It’s a massively good commitment to public health. There’s plenty of data to claim that people as a whole are healthy when they experience nature (or remember that they are nature). Gutsy call right.
My favorite explanation is the one on public health. I suspect all of them are true at some level. But I’ll stick with #4.
Watch the video. Then go to a park — whether it’s national (in Canada or not), or the flower box at the end of your street.