July 06, 2016 - 9:00 PM
SALMON ARM - A local camping company has gone offline and is ignoring phone calls after the public became aware of a scheme to attract international travellers.
Canadian Camping Adventures received national news coverage because they were reserving camping spots specifically to work with travel agents. From there, European travelers would book campsites through the company.
This caused controversy after B.C. campsites were booked full the first day reservations opened this year, and news stories pointed the finger at private companies.
Oak Bay MLA and B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver says that's when his office started getting swamped with calls.
"That story prompted a number of people contacting me and it took off from there," Weaver said.
His office sent out a news release, calling on the provincial government to take action against these "campsite scalpers."
"B.C. residents are being told they have to pay more to compete with companies who book provincial campsites in bulk and resell them at double the price," Weaver said in the release. "Our provincial campsites are not products to be sold, they belong to the people of B.C."
But Environment Minister Mary Polak says the company has been investigated, and as of now they have been found to be doing nothing wrong.
"It appears at this stage they’re not reselling the campsite, they’re including it in an overall package," Polak said.
An overall package can include luxurious things like RV rentals and river rafting trips. Polak says it's impossible for a company to "block book" a campsite, which is similar to what ticket scalpers do.
Weaver says the government needs to take action, and he has recommendations for how they can do that.
He says people should have to give their drivers license while booking, and display it when they arrive at the campsite. Weaver says British Columbians should also have the advantage of a "couple of weeks" of booking before it's open to everyone else.
But Polak says the majority of campers are British Columbians, and the problem is a growing population with a static amount of campsites.
She says less than one per cent of travelers who book a B.C. campsites are international tourists.
Canadian Camping Adventures is no longer present online. Two calls to the company from iNFOnews.ca were answered today, July 6, but comment was refused both times.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016