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© Postmedia File A couple of costumed interpreters walk through the restored Fortress of Louisbourg. According to the report, Canadians enjoy historic sites primarily for their historic connections.
A $150,000 Parks Canada survey has concluded that Canadians enjoy parks and like to be in them very much.
“Enjoyment of Canada’s national parks and historic sites and waterways in the summer of 2017 was almost universal among visitors,” says the report prepared by EKOS Research Associates.
Specifically, 94 per cent of visitors to Canada’s national parks during the summer months reported that they “enjoyed” it.
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Five per cent deemed the parks “average” and only a mysterious one per cent of respondents reported that they “did not enjoy” the likes of Banff National Park, the Rideau Canal or the Halifax Citadel.
The survey was based on telephone interviews with 3,000 Canadians who visited a Parks Canada site during the summer of 2017. That year saw historically high rates of park use as a result of fees being removed in celebration of Canada’s sesquicentennial.
The report was delivered to Parks Canada in November, but has just been made publicly available through Library and Archives Canada.
While data is important to the running of any government agency, many of the conclusions of the report may come off as a bit obvious.
“Scenery” and “natural surroundings” ranked as the number one most-enjoyed thing about Canada’s national parks, followed by “physical activity access” in a distant second place.
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The categories of “water/beaches” and “wildlife/animals” also made a strong showing in terms of enjoyment.
“Those visitors between the ages of 45 and 54 were more likely than older and younger visitors to point to the water … as central to their enjoyment of the visit,” the report says.
While enjoyment levels were similarly meteoric for historic sites, the survey nonetheless found that Canadians enjoyed them for different reasons. “Among historic site visitors, the opportunity to learn about the site and its historic contribution was key,” the report says.
The report also made sure to distinguish visitor “satisfaction” from visitor “enjoyment.” Although, perhaps unsurprisingly, virtually every visitor who had enjoyed their visit also pronounced it satisfying.
The survey generally failed to yield any coherent information on areas where Parks Canada could improve, with suggestions ranging from “more advertising” to “better food” to “improve restrooms.”
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However, a small plurality of respondents noted that they would prefer to continue not paying park fees.
The dubious utility of national park surveys is not specific to Canada.© Ian Kucerak / Postmedia Bison graze at Elk Island National Park. Most visitors to national parks seek out scenes like these and are satisfied to encounter them.
The U.S. National Park Service similarly carries out regular visitor satisfaction surveys, only to discover almost universal approval for their sites.
In their most recent survey, the U.S. National Park Service only found two sites that didn’t score an approval rating higher than 90 per cent: Manhattan’s Castle Clinton (79 per cent) and Tennessee’s Fort Donelson (88 per cent).
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