More than 80 million people worldwide visited recreational parks in 2020, according to new data from the World Parks Foundation.
The annual tally was an increase of 5.2 per cent on the previous year.
This was the first time since 2006 that more people visited recreational facilities than parks, according a WPP report.
It also marks a 12-per-cent increase from the previous decade.
The average visitor is expected to visit 1.9 parks in 2031, up from 1.6 a decade ago.
“We are very excited to see the global parks population grow to almost two billion,” said Richard G. Taylor, executive director of the WPP.
“This is a great time to be a parker.”
The World Parks Association, which has a 50-year history of helping to keep parks alive, estimates that around a quarter of people who visit a recreational facility are there for recreation.
There are roughly a million recreational facilities in the world, with more than two billion people in them, the WPA said in its annual report.
The WPP has created an interactive tool for parkers called the Park Explorer to help them plan their trip to a park.
“It’s a really fun way to get into the park, because it lets you know where to look and see what you want to see,” said John M. Burchfield, an assistant professor of natural resources at the University of California, Berkeley.
Bury the hatchet With a lot of parks being closed and the closure of more than 60 parks across the world this summer, the demand for parks is up.
“When parks are closed, they can’t accommodate the growing number of visitors,” said M. Scott Gildart, an associate professor of forestry at the California Institute of Integral Studies.
“That’s what we’re seeing now.”
Gildarts research shows that as more and more people become parkers, the amount of park-going by those people also drops.
And as more people are willing to pay a premium for a park, there is less room for the industry to make up for it.
Bowers said it will be difficult for people to pay to park in 2019 when there is a lack of facilities.
“For a lot people, the most important thing is getting in the park,” he said.
“But you can’t always get in the Park Explore to see all the options.”
While the industry has been able to offer new parks in areas like parks, it will also have to adapt to the new realities of modern living.
“What we’re starting to see is that a lot more people have to be active,” said Bowers.
“A lot more have to get up early to go to work, or to go shopping.
They can’t just go out and just be on the move.”
With files from The Canadian Press