SASKATOON -- Jay Merritt started the Saskatchewan RV Campers Facebook Page and says he saw a big difference when trying to book sites this year.

“In previous years I’ve been able to hop on the website and pick a good site, this year from about mid-July on, I couldn’t do that,” Merritt said.

He camps with his family a lot throughout the season, mostly in Saskatchewan and Alberta, but this year he stayed in his home province. He says he averages about 50 nights of camping per season.

With COVID-19 keeping people at home this spring, many bookings were cancelled at campgrounds across the province, according to Merritt.

“Even at some of the busier parks in the past, they weren’t at that 50 per cent capacity earlier in the year.”

In Waskesiu in Prince Albert National Park, campground visits picked up, according to Alex Burant, who has run a store near the campgrounds for 21 years.

He says he didn’t open until early June and feared for the future of his business thinking it “could be a bust.”

By early July when shower houses in the campgrounds were allowed to open, things started to look up.

“Once the campgrounds opened up to full capacity in July, business into August was better than other years and that’s because of the effects of COVID-19 keeping people travelling locally.”