Parks Canada will offer free daily admission to its national historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas for veterans and active members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), along with their immediate families, starting January 1, 2024.
The decision to grant free access is aimed at acknowledging the contributions and sacrifices of Canadian military personnel and their families.
Eligibility for this benefit requires the presentation of a CF One Platinum card, administered through Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS).
This card is exclusively available to currently serving CAF members, veterans, and their immediate families. Additionally, veterans can present their Veteran’s Service Card, available to any former member of the Canadian Armed Forces who has completed basic training and been honorably released.
Ron Hallman, president and chief executive officer of Parks Canada, emphasized the organization’s commitment to supporting the well-being of military families.
In a news release, Hallman stated, “Parks Canada is proud to extend a warm invitation to our Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans, and their families, by offering free daily admission and a priceless opportunity for wellness, connection, and cherished moments amidst the wonders of our national historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas.” He further highlighted the initiative as a gesture of support for the health and well-being of those who have served Canada.
This move by Parks Canada is expected to have a ripple effect on the surrounding private campgrounds and outdoor hospitality operators.
By increasing the accessibility of national parks and historic sites to military families, there is a potential for a rise in tourism and outdoor activities in these areas. This increase in visitors could benefit nearby private campgrounds, glamping sites, and RV parks, as they may experience a surge in demand for accommodations and services.
The initiative also aligns with the broader goals of Canada’s outdoor recreation industry, which aims to promote outdoor activities and nature conservation. By encouraging more families to visit national parks and historic sites, Parks Canada is fostering a deeper connection between Canadians and their natural heritage. This connection is vital for the long-term sustainability of the outdoor recreation industry and the preservation of Canada’s natural landscapes.
For campground and outdoor hospitality operators, this policy presents an opportunity to develop targeted marketing strategies and service offerings that cater to military families. Campgrounds and RV parks can create packages and experiences that complement the free access to national parks, thereby offering a complete outdoor adventure for these families.
Moreover, this initiative could lead to partnerships between Parks Canada and private campground operators. Such collaborations could include joint promotions, shared conservation efforts, and educational programs, further enhancing the outdoor experience for visitors and contributing to the local economy.