Saskatchewan people love their camping, but so far they do not love the new online booking system for provincial park campgrounds.

Saskatchewan Parks launched a new web-based booking system this year but it was overwhelmed by demand Monday morning (March 12) when it first opened for public booking, CJME-Radio, Regina, reported.

Although the site was tested for 4,000 users at a time, a major backlog left people waiting for hours and getting very frustrated with frozen web pages or having the payment site time out after they finally got through.

By late Monday afternoon, the website was running properly again and 40 percent of the available campsites were booked for the peak season by the end of the day.

Mary Anne Wihak with SaskParks said today they had to reassign staff just to deal with complaints. She promises next year will be different. They may follow a suggestion to stagger the load by not opening all campgrounds for reservations at the same time.

For people who missed out on Monday, Wihak said not to worry because even the most popular campgrounds still have room. She added there are always some sites that open up when people who reserve them in advance do not show up.

“We do hold that site for one night and then if they still haven’t shown by noon of the second day, we’ll release that site,” she said.

In the meantime, she said they are talking to the service provider for ‘Reserve-a-site’ to find out what happened and how to improve the system. The unnamed provider also runs similar sites for Ontario, Washington and British Columbia and has never received so many hits at one time.

A similar problem occurred March 1 for the Minnesota State Parks campground reservation system. That new reservation system is run through a contract with New York-based US eDirect.