Starting with the 2018 camping season, the Litchfield, Minn., city campground on Lake Ripley will be moving to online reservations.

The Litchfield City Council voted unanimously March 3 to begin an online reservation program, similar to what other campgrounds and state parks are currently using, according to the Litchfield Independent Review.

“It’s the way the campground industry is headed,” City Administrator Dave Cziok said.

In the past, people could drive in and camp on a first-come, first-served basis. Although there may be vacant sites that could be filled this way in the future, priority will go to people who make and pay for reservations in advance.

With the change will come a change in the need for permanent campground hosts. Hosts will probably work less time and have fewer duties, CzIok indicated. Details for the configuration of host duties have not yet been established.

An online campground reservation system comes with a cost. In Litchfield’s case, Cziok said that it will cost $6,400 to set up the system, plus $3,200 per year after that. The campground has a gross income of about $57,000 per year. However, he anticipates that there will be savings in the campground host arrangement that would offset the extra expense.

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