The price to explore the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s internationally renowned paradise is on the rise.
As of Jan. 1, the Park Reserve’s visitor fees rose roughly 20 per cent across the board, marking the first increase since 2008.
The cost of an annual family pass, for example, rose from $78 to $100 with family day passes rising from $15.78 to $20. Individual annual passes rose from $39.20 to $50 and individual day passes rose from $7.80 to $10. Youth 17 and under can still explore the Park Reserve for free and discounts are available for seniors.
Dave Tovell, a Visitor Experience Manager with the Park Reserve, told the Westerly News the revenue collected from the fees go back into maintenance, services, amenities and ecological efforts.
“We have to do a better job of educating our locals and our visitors as to where the money goes so we will strive to do that in the future,” he said.
He said that fees never exceed the costs of delivering services and added visitors should see themselves as “a proud supporter; not seeing it as a fee or as a barrier, but supporting the conservation and cultural and educational efforts that we have.”
He added he’s “super confident that it’s not going to have a negative impact on visitation,” and noted the fees have not seen an increase in 12 years.
“We really feel it’s undervalued at the moment,” he said. “Over the past 12-15 years, the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has really grown. Visitation has grown exponentially.”
Whether commuters will be charged to use the roughly 25-kilometre path spanning the Park Reserve that’s currently under construction to travel between West Coast communities is still up in the air.
“There’s nothing in the [National Parks] Act that says anything about the trail because the trail doesn’t exist. Everything in the act either refers to waterways or highways, so it’s kind of new ground here,” Tovell said. “We are looking into it, but we don’t have a clear cut answer and we’re not going to have people standing there all day long waiting for those few commuters that do actually go all the way through and don’t stop anywhere.”
He added that the hope is those commuters will recognize the value of the path and want to contribute to the Park Reserve, rather than trying to get away with a free experience.
“What we really want to do is make people proud supporters of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve,” he said.
“There’s so much other stuff that we anticipate will be part of the trail, so we hope you don’t cruise through without stopping. But, we do recognize there will be a small minority of people that do do that.”